It adds that a whistleblower complaint was made against Fiona Watt, the MRC executive chair, in 2020 that sparked an investigation by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). In a statement, UKRI says the investigation report and any actions it took are confidential, but that the findings and recommendations were accepted by Watt and MRC. Watt says in the statement that she offered a private written apology to the whistleblower.
"I was devastated to learn that my actions and behavior had affected colleagues in a negative way," she says in the public statement. "I have now undertaken an extensive personal improvement plan to address the issues that were raised."
Ottoline Leyser, the UKRI Chief Executive, adds that bullying is not tolerated by UKRI and that it is important that "we collectively create a working culture in which diverse views are valued and everyone is treated with respect."
The Scientist adds that Watt is expected to leave her position at MRC in early 2022 to become the next director of the European Molecular Biology Organization.