Mrsa | 3M Countersues As MRSA Row Becomes Toxic

A company with links to the government has been accused of threatening a knighthood awarded to the head of one of the US’s biggest companies.

Harvey Boulter, chief executive of Porton Capital, an investment fund that worked with the government to develop a test for MRSA, has been accused of “blackmail” by claiming that the prime minister may reconsider a knighthood awarded to George Buckley, the British-born chief executive of the US conglomerate 3M.

Lawyers for 3M claim Boulter’s threat came after he demanded 3M hand over $30m (18.5m) to settle a long-running dispute about the potentially lifesaving test sold to the US company in 2007.

In an email to 3M, seen by the Guardian, Boulter said: “As a result of my meeting [with Liam Fox, the defence secretary] you ought to understand that David Cameron’s cabinet might very shortly be discussing the rather embarrassing situation of George [Buckley]’s knighthood. It was discussed today. Governments are big and sometimes decisions in one part are not well co-ordinated.”

Boulter said 3M’s decision to kill off the MRSA testing system, called BacLite, had left the government in a “very awkward situation”. The test, which detects the presence of MRSA in hours rather than days, was developed by ” and jointly owned by ” the Ministry of Defence’s civilian research arm, Ploughshare Innovations. “They [the government] feel that you should do the right thing. I can tell you that even at $20m-$25m you will leave them not feeling great about the whole episode,” Boulter said in the email to 3M’s lawyers early on Saturday morning.

“At a headline of $30m+ you will allow the MoD to internally save face.”

Boulter, who claims to have been “given sole authority by the MoD to settle on behalf of them”, said that unless 3M paid out millions of pounds the government would be “quietly seething, with ramifications for a while”. “They have memories like elephants,” he added. “I said to Dr Fox I would try, I have done so.”

“From my side, I don’t hold a grudge, whether this is $5m or $35m it is small beer. We manage $700m and many of our investors call $5m a rounding error.”

Boulter followed up the first email with a second sent in the early hours of Sunday morning. “I need to tell something to Dr Fox’s office on Sunday night,”

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