Lewis MacDonald – Labour – North East Scotland May 2016. Pic – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

In the Herald today:

ONE of Scotland’s leading professors of microbiology believes environmental health officers should lead a “a fleet of contact tracers” as he calls on the Scottish Government to “ramp up capacity” for testing coronavirus patients. Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, will appear remotely before the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee today, to give his views on the Covid-19 pandemic….His expertise are [sic] currently being used by the Scottish Police Federation, which has called on Prof Pennington as an advisor on risks and safeguards for police staff during the coronavirus pandemic. 


Pennington is a bacteriologist. Covid-19 is a virus. They’re not the same thing. Do we have no top virologists? Well, only FOUR. Note, only the police trade union is now using the prof.

Did he put himself forward or was he ‘head-hunted’ by the committee’s convenor, Lewis McDonald, Labour and Unionist Party?

Prof Pennington retired in 2003, 17 years ago, chaired the Wishaw E-coli investigation in 1997 and was last employed as an enquiry chair, 15 years ago, in the South Wales E-coli outbreak of 2005.

Yet, the prof, top member of the pro-Union group, Scotland Matters, is regularly wheeled out by the opposition parties, BBC Scotland and the Herald to blame the Scottish Government for something.

Have you seen any other virology prof in our media? Me neither. Is that because there are none? Has the SNP betrayed the Scottish people by preventing recruitment of new virology profs?

Well, no, there are at least four I can find easily online. There’s at least one each in the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. There’s even a new one at Aberdeen who must be getting pretty fed up with the old man stealing the limelight after 17 years retired.

What is prof Pennington’s appeal to the Scottish media, we wonder?