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Patrick Vallance, Former Government Scientific Adviser, Joins Tony Blair’s Think Tank

The appointment of Sir Patrick Vallance comes amid concerns over the think tank’s clients and sources of funding.

Former government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has joined Sir Tony Blair’s think tank, assuming the role of a strategic councillor.

Widely known to the British public as former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s co-host of the televised COVID-19 press conferences, Sir Patrick provided scientific context to the information shared by the government during the pandemic.

His five-year term as chief scientific adviser to the government ended in April last year.

On Monday, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) announced that Sir Patrick joined the think tank to provide “strategic advice” and “practical solutions to challenges client governments face.”

Founded by former Prime Minister Tony Blair seven years ago, the TBI describes its activity as “working shoulder to shoulder with political leaders and governments.” It emphasises the importance of technology in expediting effective decisions.

Commenting on the appointment of Sir Patrick, Sir Tony welcomed the “depth and breadth” of his expertise, which he called “invaluable” in TBI’s work with governments.

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Sir Patrick joined the former Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Sir Nick Carter and the former Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin as part of the think tank.

“Our work with countries on peace and security and the opportunities provided by advances in science and technology will be enhanced enormously by their contributions,” Sir Tony said.


Among TBI’s partners are foundations, philanthropists, corporations, and tech companies. Some of its most controversial clients are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE. TBI continued to advise Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

In 2022, the institute was operational in nearly 30 countries, with reserves of $39.6 million as of Dec. 31, 2022.

The addition of Sir Patrick—a former civil servant—comes amid existing criticism of TBI’s clients and funders. The former adviser also came under scrutiny after it emerged in September 2020 that he held shares worth £600,000 in the drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK was contracted to develop a COVID-19 vaccine for the government. The health secretary at the time, Matt Hancock, denied any conflict of interest, while a government spokesperson said Sir Patrick had no input into the decision on vaccine procurement.

The government has rules for senior civil servants and ministers so that they declare potential conflicts of interest.

Under new rules implemented in July last year, senior civil servants must confirm on an annual basis that their declarations of interest are up to date.
Conflict of interest concerns also came to light in the case of former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, who last year took a part-time consulting role at the COVID-19 vaccine giant Moderna.
Sir Jonathan was involved in the decision-making process for the UK government’s vaccine procurement, having secured access to 357 million doses of vaccines from seven different developers including Moderna in 2020.

Scope of Influence

Speaking about the vaccination regime during the pandemic, Sir Tony suggested that vaccinated Britons should have more freedom with regard to domestic and international travel than the unvaccinated.

A report by TBI said that “vaccine status” mattered, despite concerns that it would create a discriminatory “two-tier society between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”

The ties between TBI and the current leadership of Labour, a party that is predicted to win the next general election, have been questioned by lawmakers.

The SNP’s Westminster economy spokesman Drew Hendy has written to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, challenging him to “sever all links” between his party and Sir Tony’s think tank.

Mr. Hendy suggested that Labour’s commitment to “clean up politics” means cutting ties with organisations that receive funding from “authoritarian governments with damaging human rights records.”

Sir Keir joined Sir Tony to discuss the future of Britain at TBI’s conference in July, where they spoke about economy, health care, and public service.

Owen Evans contributed to this report.

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