NRI loses case against Dolly's dad

Singh had alleged racial discrimination at the hands of the scientist credited with creating the cloned sheep.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 16:55 IST

An Indian origin scientist, who had claimed to be the subject of racial discrimination at the hands of the scientist credited with creating the cloned sheep Dolly, has lost his case.

However, the employment tribunal, which heard Dr Prim Singh's case, found that the Roslin University in Scotland was guilty of unfairly dismissing the Indian scientist, reports said.

In March 2005, Singh had claimed that when he was working at the Roslin Institute, he was victimised and discriminated against by Prof Ian Wilmut, widely credited as the pioneer behind Dolly, the Sheep.

He had claimed that Wilmut stole his ideas and continuously bullied him.

Singh, who was the head of nuclear reprogramming at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, claimed that he was passed over for promotion and given second-rate laboratory equipment.

He had also alleged that when he lodged a complaint of racial discrimination against Wilmut, the head of Roslin's department of gene expression and development, he was forced out of his £40,000-a-year job.

According to a BBC report, Singh told the Edinburgh Employment Tribunal that Wilmut was a short-tempered bully who used to shout at him and did not appear to accept that Asian men could have original ideas.

The 45-year-old scientist had also sought £1 million in damages from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which sponsors the Roslin Institute, for unfairly dismissing him.

According to the Scotsman, the BBSRC had claimed that it dismissed Singh because of an "irretrievable breakdown in relations" between him and Roslin's management.

The tribunal cleared Wilmut of the racial discrimination charge but upheld the charge that BBSRC unfairly dismissed the Indian scientist.

It ordered BBSRC to pay £60,000 in compensation to Singh, the Scotsman said.

"I'm just relieved it's finally all over," the reports quoted Singh, who now works at the Borstel Institute in Liebniz, Germany, as saying.

"You can imagine the effect this ordeal has had on my family. I don't want to say any more right now; I just want to take some time to digest the findings."

The tribunal's findings caps some of the most interesting revelations regarding the work behind Dolly.

Wilmut, in the course of the 40-day hearing of the Singh case, had acknowledged that he was not the 'father' or 'creator' of Dolly. He also said that he performed none of the experiments and that he had minimised the role of some of his fellows.

He gave most of the credit - 66 per cent - to Keith Campbell, while playing a "supervisory" or managerial role himself.

Campbell and another scientist, Bill Ritchie, had in early 1996 succeeded in producing a pair of lambs, Megan and Morag, from embryonic cells.

Dolly was born on July 5, 1996.

This is not the first time that Singh has lost a racial discrimination case.

In 2005, he had sought £1 million in damages from the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, claiming that he was "never given a chance" in his application for the directorship of the institute.

The Bristol Employment Tribunal, hearing his case, had dismissed the charge, ruling that Singh "never had any real chance" of success as he did not meet any of the six criteria in the job description.

First Published: Aug 24, 2006 14:23 IST