NEWS: Sacked PR chief sues MRC for wrongful dismissal

Mary Rice, who was last week fired from her job of head of public communication at the Medical Research Council, is suing her former employer for wrongful dismissal.

Mary Rice, who was last week fired from her job of head of public

communication at the Medical Research Council, is suing her former

employer for wrongful dismissal.



Rice was suspended from the Medical Research Council (MRC) in August

after she told the Sunday Times she opposed a decision by the council’s

Neurochemical Pathology Unit to accept a pounds 147,000 donation from

British American Tobacco.



The money was to be used to fund a research project studying the effects

of nicotine in treating age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s.



The 49-year-old, who joined the MRC seven years ago, heard last week

that she had been dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ and is now taking MRC

to an industrial tribunal.



Rice has just begun a six- month contract to work as a press officer at

the British Medical Association (BMA).



The MRC is now looking for a replacement head of public communication.



A statement from MRC reads: ‘...the central issue is one of confidence

and trust between employer and employee.’ It continues: ‘...She stated

her own personal opinion and made no attempt to explain the MRC

perspective. This act made her position as the Council’s head of public

communication untenable’.



The fax concludes: ‘Mary’s dismissal in these circumstances has no

bearing on her right, or that of any other employee, to express their

opinions or to offer advice, internally, on corporate policy and

decisions.’



BMA chairman Dr Sandy Macara said: ‘Rice should have been praised for

her actions, not vilified.’



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