Scott Mardis had posted on the Natural History Museum's treatment of Dr. Denys Tucker and his belief in the Loch Ness Monster. You can see his post here.
By coincidence, the Independent newspaper has now published a story on his dismissal based on records released under the Freedom of Information Act. You can read that here. Was he fired because he believed in the Loch Ness Monster or for more mundane reasons? Despite being a qualified zoologist, will sceptics still dismiss his claimed sighting of a large creature in Loch Ness? Of course, they will.
The Daily Mail is also running the story here.
Dr Denys Tucker is not a name familiar to us today, but 56 years ago he was an eminent zoologist at the Natural History Museum whose star was very much in the ascendancy. Their youngest researcher by a decade, he was an expert in fish who was praised by his colleagues - until he claimed to have seen the Loch Ness monster, leading to him being sacked. Now new papers released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal details of his seven-year legal battle to be reinstated, including attempts to sue the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Tucker began his academic career after serving in the Second World War as a pilot, joining the Natural History Museum in 1949 as a scientific officer in department of zoology. He rose quickly to the rank of senior in 1951, and then principal scientific officer by 1957. A favourite of senior academics, his bosses once said: 'Most people who know him would agree that in intelligence he is to be classed with a few of our most brilliant colleagues.'
However, all that changed in 1959 when, after a trip to Scotland, he claimed to have seen an 'unnamed animal' breach the surface of Loch Ness. He wrote a letter to New Scientist magazine saying that the creature could only have been an Elasmosaurus, a subspecies of long-necked dinosaurs that roamed the earth 80 million years ago. Announcing his findings to the public, he concluded: 'I am quite satisfied that we have in Loch Ness one of the most exciting and important findings of British zoology today.'
While his announcement certainly fired the public imagination, and sparked three decades of academic research into the loch, his superiors at the museum were less than impressed. According to documents seen by The Independent, Dr Tucker was asked whether his new interest in Nessie was a 'suitable topic' for a lead researcher to be involved with. Questions began to be asked about his previous work and his shadowy disciplinary record, which allegedly included speculating about the sex lives of colleagues, and waving a pistol at a superior.
The final straw came in 1960 as Dr. Morrison-Scott was appointed the new director of the Natural History Museum, and decided that Dr Tucker had to go. The sudden dismissal so shocked Dr Tucker that he decided to launch a legal campaign to be reinstated which included suing the trustees of the museum in person.
While today that would mean dragging a bunch of academics into court, back in 1960 it meant launching cases against Archbishop Lord Fisher, then head of the Church of England, Harry Hylton-Foster, then Speaker of the House of Commons, two viscounts, and a marquess. This caused deep consternation in the corridors of power, with officials keen to shut the case down, worrying that if he won they would be stopped from firing a civil servant ever again.