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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 18:49 GMT
Staff e-mailed for sperm donations
Sperm as seen under a microscope
LGC regularly does work on behalf of the government
A scientific analysis company has e-mailed male employees asking them to donate samples of semen for a new DNA laboratory.

The e-mail to staff at LGC Group in Teddington, south-west London, asked them to visit the toilets to produce their donation.

It said: "Sorry for the e-mail, but the Crime Scene DNA Lab needs some semen samples for making practice forensic exhibits.

"Please visit the toilets on the first floor nearest to Block 1 between 10am and 5pm.

We have reason to call on staff sometimes to help us validate new scientific methods

LGC spokeswoman

"If you are able to provide a sample in one of the tubes and place this in the ice box this would be much appreciated."

Government departments regularly use LGC's services, and its analysis of animal research led to the discovery that brain tissue from cattle had been mistaken for that of sheep during the BSE crisis.

An LGC spokeswoman admitted the e-mail, which was leaked by an employee, did exist.

She said it was normal practice for the firm to ask staff for various kinds of samples to test new scientific procedures.

"We do technical DNA analysis," she said. "We have reason to call on staff sometimes to help us validate new scientific methods.

"It could be hair samples, or whatever - it's just to check the accuracy of what we are doing."

In this case, the semen samples were needed for a new forensic DNA laboratory.

Vasectomy warning

Asked if any members of staff had responded to the request, the spokeswoman said: "I haven't had any confirmation about that."

An official statement issued by the company later said it was essential all its methods were fully validated.

The headquarters of LGC Group in Teddington, south west London
The company said donations are "voluntary"

It said: "LGC is a leading analytical and diagnostic company and provides, among other services, forensic science support to police forces.

"From time to time, we ask staff on a voluntary and anonymous basis to provide samples for method development purposes."

The e-mail message, sent on Thursday, warns staff not to give a sample if they have had a vasectomy.

LGC is the UK's largest independent analytical laboratory, providing chemical, biochemical and DNA testing services for scientists and industry.

In November last year the company was awarded a major government contract to carry out BSE tests on cattle for the Department for Food, and Rural Affairs.

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