Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 07:54 UK

Vote rules out Greenfield return to Royal Institution

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

The Royal Institution's Chris Rofe reads a statement following the vote

Lady Susan Greenfield's supporters have failed to win a vote which would have paved the way for her return as director of the UK's Royal Institution.

A resolution that would have led to the replacement of the RI's council was defeated by an overwhelming margin.

She was made redundant on 8 January this year in order to make savings following a financial review.

The review showed the RI was in trouble after a £22m refurbishment and the sale of property which generated income.

At issue was whether the current administration should be thrown out as a consequence. But some 650 members of the RI voted against such a move.

Lady Greenfield said she had still not given up on returning to the RI despite the outcome of the ballot.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The overspend was £2-3m out of a total of £20m. That's not a large amount of money in fund-raising terms or by the states of some companies and organisations.

"I was charge of the organisation and I was the person who had the vision. The financial decisions were collective. No organisation would let one person take sole responsibility for an expenditure and a project of that kind."

The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 by the leading scientists of the day and is dedicated to scientific research and education.

The organisation's council said that it was "extremely pleased" with the result - which it said meant it could now focus on restoring financial stability.

Although the current regime received strong support from its members, sources say this did not equate to a ringing endorsement.

The council approved the proposals which led to its current financial crisis and many members said at the meeting that the Royal Institution's leadership had to do better in future.

Its administrators now believe they can now attract the funding they need to secure its long term future and limit the damage done by the controversy surrounding Lady Greenfield's departure.

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