During a rare interview, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, was asked to describe himself in three words. He replied: ‘Introverted, curious… and geeky.’
Yesterday, jaws across Britain dropped when they learned quite how accurately he might
have added a fourth adjective: rich.
For it has emerged that Vallance holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million.
A senior Tory MP was not alone in arguing that his current shareholding represents a ‘potential conflict of interest’ with Vallance being at the heart of the Downing Street race to find a vaccine against coronavirus.
The MP added: ‘If he is making decisions on vaccines and advising the Government on them then he either needs to divest himself of the shares or make a declaration… Every time he is talking about vaccines or on TV, he should put it on the table.’
Even more surprisingly, it appears that Vallance, chairman of the Government’s expert advisory panel on vaccines, did not think it necessary to inform Boris Johnson or Health Secretary Matt Hancock about his shares.
Mr Hancock admitted yesterday: ‘The first I knew about it was when I read it in the newspapers.’
If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery – and Vallance’s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions.
Already, the US government has provided £1.65billion to GSK and its partner Sanofi for vaccine development.
Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin.
‘I think you will find Patrick Vallance is the wealthiest civil servant in the history of Whitehall,’ said one senior source last night. read more