This coverage of the PAC hearing is not intended to be a verbatim transcript of the full sitting and should not be treated as such, you can listen to the full sitting here.
As today’s committee hearing started to pick up pace, it became clear that Dr Glover’s well publicised disagreements with DHSC were going to surface and when they did, it made for some explosive evidence. From saying people within DHSC are promoted above their capabilities to saying management takes credit for others’ work and THAT LETTER to slanderous emails from within the Cabinet Office, Dr Glover pulled no punches.
CR: We started to become aware there wasn’t the recognition for the great work you did for the Isle of Man and in your timeline you said you produced three detailed reports and ultimately you arrived at the view you weren’t getting the recognition for the work that was achieved. What happened when you met David Ashford on September 2? You said you raised nine issues relating to DHSC and three relating to scientific advice. Perhaps we could discuss some of them?
Firstly you said you were concerned that there appeared to be a degree of promotions occurring where the role people were fulfilling was beyond their expertise do you stand by that?
DR G: Yes, there were conversations with people and it seemed to be some people were promoted on management skills and considered to be experts in areas they simply aren’t. People had “not my job” problems which I raised with DA. Just because someone has a masters degree doesn’t mean they have the expertise to offer advice.
CR: You progressively became aware that senior roles were claiming credit for work done by others, do you stand by that?
DR G: Yes, I was told by Steve Doyle that his line manager claimed credit for his work. I assumed it would be known who was doing the work but as it seems and I didn’t realise this until later, but some people believed Steve had brought in the testing and they didn’t know I was there.
CR: At the time you realised some staff were writing briefings for CoMIN which was beyond their scope which led to different viewpoints emerging between what they said and what you knew?
DR G: For someone who was working on the ground, we’d watch the briefings and point out what they were saying which was wrong, we were getting concerned that the numbers weren’t the ones being given to ministers. It was confusing for us. I remember listening to either the first or second Tynwald sittings in October and hearing there was a briefing in production for testing but I had no input on that. I thought I should’ve been brought into the fold and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t part of that. I had a meeting with Alf Cannan where he said there was a review into border testing but we weren’t involved. Steve Doyle said Will Greenhow was writing one of the reports and I just wondered what experience he had to advise CoMin on that?
CR: Does that explain why you set your own blog up to influence the narrative of what was accurate and what was not?
Dr G: I was facing people on social media who had questions about testing and false positives etc. The information needed to be corrected, we needed to be doing scientific education.
Set up the blog as I felt there was a communications gap. I suggested that we should speak to gov comms about it but the path lab staff looked at me in horror. So I started the blog so I could share the link with anyone who had questions.
*Chris you’re muted
CR: One of the things you raised with Ashford was that the lab didn’t have ISO accreditation?
Dr G: ISO is fairly standard. Taxagenomics is working towards specific accreditation in testing. But the borders being shut is holding it up.
Rebecca Shields was disparaging about Jersey as their team did have accreditation and Jersey thought the Isle of Man should have ISO accreditation. She was a bit touchy about it.
ISO accreditation would help to sharpen things a bit.
CR: What response did you get about genomics sequencing info you sent to Doyle and Dr Ewart?
Dr G: Nothing from Doyle which is why I then sent directly to Henrietta. I knew she was busy but dropped her an email explaining that it was going to be high impact, suggesting we do genomic sequencing. We could look back at Abbotswood etc and learn from past outbreaks.
Henrietta seemed keen. This decision that was made was that Rizwan would get in touch with Manchester. It came back positively. I got the impression that Henritta was chuffed that there was a PHD scientist knocking around.
CR: Let’s start looking at the parting of ways. Why do you think Ashford wanted to say you weren’t employed by DHSC?
Dr G: He was of the opinion that he had checked with HR and they told him I was a contractor. But I was a bank staff member. They said I was external so I couldn’t have input on important briefings which was frustrating.
I was still getting a payslip every month.
I saw a paper on testing and wasn’t impressed with it. It had been sent to CoMin so I didn’t have time to input. I was getting annoyed that I was spending so much time and effort for the Department and not being able to input expertise where it was important.
I needed to find some work life balance as I was still running my business. I was getting frustrated because the path lab said I couldn’t resign and couldn’t be sacked – it was like being held hostage by the Department. I felt trapped in 100 hour weeks.
CR: You weren’t able to contribute to the important document? Your scientific expertise was being diluted? You must have been saddened by the Chief Minister’s comments at a briefing that lumped you in with 53 other people?
Dr G: I’d like to put on record that band 5 and 6 scientists do such a fantastic job. My gripe is with the management, not the people on the ground.
Scientists are not all the same. We all have our own specialists, everyone has their sphere of expertise. They were saying they couldn’t listen to ‘outside experts’ because of government corporate governance.
Sometimes you have to bring in other voices. Even if you don’t agree with them.
They woudln’t listen to me because of my ‘employment definition’ It just seemed like a really stupid thing.
I thought they were just exploiting me. They wanted the things I could do for them but there was no recognition that I have a full time job and business. I was at the end of my tether.
I emailed Ashford to explain I was on the payroll. His response was via HR, saying I was a contractor. I wasn’t impressed.
I was banging my head against a brick wall.
My offers of help were being blocked.
I wasn’t looking for a full time job with them, I have my own business. I had talked about becoming an external contractor to get a better work life balance. So I resigned.
CR: Let’s move into LETTERGATE…
Dr G: My relationship with the microbiology department was really good.
Steve & Rebecca Shields are guys I was working with 24/7. I classed them as family, we all cried when I resigned. I didn’t expect a letter like that to come from someone who had worked with me.
I’d sent an email to the people I’d be working with to let them know that I’d resigned and to let them know that I was hoping to come back as an external contractor.
I didn’t listen to the Lettergate briefing initially. I knew it would be a question and I didn’t want to listen to what anybody says. But then I saw a notification on Twitter saying I was hung out to dry by Ashford.
I got a message through from the head of microbiology at the path lab saying this is not from us. They appreciated my work. I got messages from guys I’d worked with saying they didn’t believe it had come from someone in the department.
I’ll be honest, I stuck my head in the sand all weekend, I was shocked. I think if someone did write a letter to the minister, they’re perfectly entitled to do that, but I think the way David Ashford used that letter was just atrocious.
It was used to discredit me and I suspect it was used to discredit me because I’d called him out on him telling me I was an external contractor and I told him he was wrong, publicly, on Twitter and I suspect he didn’t like that.
It should have been ‘thanks for all of your time, have a nice life’.
CR: By this time you resigned but the lab still had Bob. Believe they bought one but Bob was still there along with your software. You needed to move items without upsetting the process…
Dr G: This feeds into the current dispute and why they won’t use us for genetics.
The letter changed things, I didn’t know whether I wanted to go back and do any external contracting at all. On Monday I spoke to my lawyer to check the position of Bob the robot and the software which is my Intellectual property. As a company we had property in another lab so I wanted to get an agreement in place so I could get it back.
The lawyers sent a friendly letter – we don’t want to disrupt the testing etc – we just needed to get everything formalised and license the software to them if they wanted to use it.
CR: Two points: Do you want to touch on meeting with Steve Doyle in November?
Dr G: Before the letter was sent. Steve sent me a text saying the CEO and COO wanted to get in touch. We had a call where we discussed how we could work together. I told them that the robot letter was en route.
I explained I was overworked etc. After the letter episode I didn’t know whether I wanted to come back. But they were pushing me hard on a decision.
We met again, they tried to push me to sign the agreement that day. Kathryn Magson then admitted that they had a problem with test reagents and wanted a decision straight away. Otherwise they would need to send everything to Manchester again.
I proposed that we would go to our lawyers and come up with a contract for supplying reagents. Spent a few grand of my money on lawyers so the department could receive test reagents.
That would solve the problem then we would deal with an external contractor contract.
Sent the agreement to Kathryn Magson, they confirmed that they wouldn’t send to Manchester I was relieved.
Then the AG’s Chambers didn’t like the contract. I explained we couldn’t supply them without the agreement being signed. Nobody negotiates with Apple about the terms and conditions of sale for a computer.
I told Rebececa Shields there was a problem, she said she wasn’t happy and that they would sort it out. They were running out of reagents. They would often run out of stuff and ring me on Sunday.
I finally got confirmation and ordered them.
That day, they ran the whole thing on rapid test cartridges. Unfortunately I could have warned them of it two weeks ago.
In the midst of all of this they got the robot lawyers letter. We asked for BOB back and explained that they needed to license the software. They didn’t reply.
Steve Doyle came to start negotiating about the role going back. He decided to say at one point – “You do realise if you don’t come back and do everything we want you to, we could put negative press out about you”
I thought I’m not going to be blackmailed. It was a rubbish job spec that wasn’t clear.
I said they needed to reply to the Robot letter before I did anything else and wanted to have everything in writing from this point.
They said Kathryn would reply at some point but she was too busy. I thought I’ll give them the extra week.
In the meantime, Ashford was telling Paul Moulton that they were dealing with four or five suppliers for reagents which was news to me. I emailed him to confirm and he said yes. I checked with the path lab. Rebecca confirmed.
Later that afternoon as we hadn’t had any contact back from our Robot lawyer letter. We had to issue them with an action notice, so we could go and get Bob.
We needed the robot back. I instructed lawyers to send the action letter, saying I would go and remove the robot. I removed the robot itself and the intellectual property, the code they had chosen not to license.
BUT – One of the team was found to be copying my code, I caught them doing it.
It was the software that belonged to my company, they had changed ownership of the file from TaxaGenomics. When I looked at the code, it was identifiable by code. I had it backed up. Someone who codes can recognise their own code. I leave myself little comments and notes in it so it is recognisably mine.
I told them it was Intellectual Property theft. I deleted the copies I could see at the lab and called the lawyers and wrote a three page witness statement.
The following morning, Kathryn Magson replied about the robot lawyer and immediately said – we don’t need the robot anymore. Then she added a paragraph in there about IP saying that all of my Tax Genomics software and code was open source and publicly available. IT WASN’T.
We reported it to the police, as the lawyers suggested that computer security act might come into play. They passed the case to the OFT, but they didn’t have the resource or inclination to follow up.
We sent another lawyer’s letter saying it’s not Ok to copy our code, it’s not open source. We sent this letter to Kathryn Magson making it clear that the software was written by Taxagenomics.
She replied saying that any of my IP belonged to DHSC because I had been an employee.
*Robertshaw – LOL
I laughed at this too. And again spoke to the Lawyer, there were no clauses in my bank contract about ownership of intellectual property. The clauses didn’t exist.
We told her we caught someone red handed trying to be underhand.
We got a letter back on the 23rd December, all negotiations had fallen by the wayside at this point. I didn’t want to take them to court but I wanted to find out what had gone down.
It is now open correspondence. Kathryn Magson claimed that I had written the software in the microbiology department. She stated that the department’s position was that the copyright belonged to the department and not Taxa.
She seemed to forget that we sent her a letter saying that we owned the code. She also said that because we had provided a copy to the department, if this is the case, how can Taxa not be the owner?
Most importantly, she confirmed that back ups of the code had been taken. She also then said that the code had been reinstated after I deleted the copies I had found.
On the 5th Jan we got another letter, a few days after I offered to do genomic sequencing on Island.
They requested that we prove that the copyright exists.
The Department’s position was that they didn’t know that Taxa owned it. They obviously did.
license the software. This code was written prior to Covid. We use Github to timestamp code changes etc, it’s like track changes in word but on steroids. This was the proof that the code belonged to us.
The last letter came from the Attorney General (AG), this was not pleasant to read. They provided, what they called a detailed chronology of events. It was 22 bullet points, my witness statement was three pages. At this point they state the code being used by the department had been specifically written and was distinct from Taxa code.
Obviously I know it was our code. They said I had removed the software deliberately to halt testing on the Isle of Man. Given I had pulled out all the stops throughout, I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t the case. I never intended to disrupt the testing process.
They further claimed that me deleting the software had resulted in the lab resorting to manual pipetting. However, in the following sentence they say the employee in question was able to cobble together code to use the robot. I’m SUSPICIOUS that this was Taxa code.
They then claimed they had written their own code but it took three weeks. If I delete a script, it would take me a few hours to rewrite something. SUSPICIOUS
They then state they had to commission a robot manufacturer to do the same thing. three versions of the same thing. SUSPICIOUS
Difficult to get to the bottom of it all. Ultimately they are trying to lay the blame with me.
I suspect that the employee in question told their boss ‘they could do the testing without Rachel’. And it hasn’t worked out in the way they expected. At the end of that letter they claim the employee in question learnt how to write the code by watching me write the code in the Department. It’s not something you can watch over someone’s shoulder, you can’t learn to code through osmosis. It’s a practical skill like learning the piano.
At this time, I was getting frustrated with the lack of focus on genomics and was getting lots of questions about it on social media.
As I said in a tweet, we can distill the entire argument down to one DHSC employee who said they could code but they can’t. And that’s why they refuse to use Taxagomics for on Island genomic testing.
Then I got another letter from the AG saying I was being derogatory and aggressive on Twitter about a government employee. They saw that as defamation and they had a duty of care to protect the employee, I didn’t identify them. As HQ had said, there are 53 of them.
They wanted me to delete my tweets.
And I thought they didn’t extend a duty of care to me when I was working all hours under the sun.
Our lawyers reminded them that the government telling the public that my lab isn’t capable of doing genomic sequencing is ACTUAL defamation.
If someone rips a certificate off from us, we don’t sell to them. I didn’t see how we could supply them with re agents when I couldn’t get to the bottom of the IP theft.
We’ve caught them and we can prove it. We’ve invited someone from gov to look at the proof and evidence our lawyers have.
I think the politicians are going to prick up their ears at this bit…
I mentioned the police earlier, and when we spoke to them about IP theft – they told us they had taken advice and they felt that it was the copyright act rather than the computer security act, and therefore an OFT matter rather than criminal matter… We don’t know if they took that advice externally or from the AG.
Well then, the Gov threatened me with prosecution under the computer security act. Our lawyers thought that this was an interesting conflict considering the advice we were given. DHSC were being advised by AG who told them that I could be prosecuted under the computer security act. But the AG told the Police that I couldn’t.
They just want me to go away and disappear.
I am lucky that I have means to speak to lawyers to refute these allegations and get to the bottom of them. I’m not interested in suing them for money or taking them to court, I just wanted to get to the bottom of it and expose the truth.
Why didn’t they pick up the phone and ask to license the software? That for me tells me there is more going on behind the scenes than I am aware of.
CR: Recently you said if you could run genomic sequencing, you could turn around results in 18 hours, do you stand by that?
Dr G: Yes I would work through the night.
CR: Would you wish to draw PAC’s eyes to a slanderous email from a senior member of the Cabinet office?
Dr G: Erm. We are in the process of a subject access request about the email.
Juan Watterson: If not unfair to ask, if they rang you today, would you still help?
Dr G: Yes, but my business partner thinks I’m crazy to say that. On our island we help each other out.
Juan Watterson: Anything else you’d like to add?
Dr G: One thing I’d like to read out that epitomises my relationship with DHSC. I was asked about if I could be nominated for an Extraordinary Islander award which I said yeah whatever. I later googled myself, which I don’t recommend and it showed what DHSC thought of me before I resigned and the ridiculousness of the copyright claims etc.
Five days later it was removed from the Extraordinary Islanders website, that felt like a low blow.
Juan Watterson: Thank you for your time, it has been very revealing.