Responding today to the publication of research by Newcastle University promoting Professor Leo Kinlen’s population mixing and an as yet unidentified virus as causing the Sellafield leukaemias, local pressure group CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) has questioned the credibility of ‘eminent’ cancer specialist Sir Richard Doll for his current acceptance of an unsubstatiated theory which he has twice rejected in the past. A CORE spokesperson said today: “This is another orchestrated attempt to shift attention away from radiation, particularly with part privatisation coming on. It is unscientific to concoct a computer programme to make a hypothetical theory fit. Sir Richard Doll’s support for the Newcastle research makes its validity even more suspect. His view has littlfe credibility with us.” CORE campaigner Janine Allis-Smith, whose son developed leukaemia, wrote to Sir Richard Doll in 1989, when a viral cause was first suggested and before he agreed to be a BNFL witness to testify against Cumbrian leukaemia victims. As a then Director of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and a member of the United Kingdom Coordinating Committee for Cancer Research (UKCCCR) that received £3 million from BNFL, the CEGB and the UK Atomic Energy Authority for research into the cause of childhood leukaemia, he replied: “I am personally far from convinced that a virus plays any part in the production of childhood leukaemia in this country, but the idea is scientifically attractive …… because it could explain some of the epidemiological findings. Only one factor is firmly established as a cause of childhood leukaemia: namely radiation.” Contrary to Newcastle’s findings and Prof. Doll’s current support of the viral theory, and with no virus having been identified over the last ten years, radiation remains one of the only known causes of leukaemia. Furthermore, BNFL has paid out many millions of pounds in compensation to its workers for leukaemia and most other cancers, on a probability of just 20% that their cancers were caused by radiation. The CORE spokesperson added: “ This theory clearly doesn’t work here. Despite the significant influx of nearly eight thousand construction workers from all parts of the UK to this area in the 1940’s, when two TNT production plants were built at Windscale and Drigg, leukaemias were only found in the 1950’s after Windscale opened. It is ‘convenient’ that these early years were left out of Newcastle’s research. The logical conclusion from any BNFL acceptance of Newcastle’s work would be to ask the workers for their compensation money back and instead offer them and their children an injection for a virus that they can’t identify.” Notes for Editors: The Kinlen viral hypothesis is supported solely in the UK, and only then by further studies by Professor Kinlen, the originator of the theory. The criteria for his population mixing theory are not met in Sellafield’s case where there is a continuing high incidence of leukaemia rather than a cluster, bounded by time and specific location. Newcastle University has longstanding ties with BNFL and its in-house, but off-site, Westlakes Research Institute, at BNFL laboratories, with BNFL scientists and with BNFL money. Though the cancer causing mechanism is as yet uncertain, the genetic and biological effects of very low levels of radiation are increasingly better understood worldwide. For further information, or for a full copy of Prof. Doll’s letter, contact Janine Allis-Smith on 01229 833851, fax 01229 812239 or mobile 0789 999 1146.