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Obituary: Bob Pritchard

ek focuses2Last night some of you may have been watching ‘Code of a Killer’ the story of the first murderer to be caught through DNA fingerprinting, pioneered by Dr Alec Jefferys at Leicester University.

Professor Robert (Bob) Pritchard, the man who set up and recruited him to the Genetics Dept at the University passed away over the weekend after a long period in a vegetative state. As well as being a notable scientist he was a prominent Liberal activist for over two decades.

Alec Jeffreys said that as soon as he met Professor Robert Pritchard, who founded the university department of genetics, he felt drawn to it.

Bob created a collegiate environment, almost on the lines of a commune: no prima donnas, just everyone interacting well with each other. I knew I could be happy within that, so I took a gamble, and have never regretted it.’

When the Tories in Leicester proposed to make Gary Lineker a freeman of the city in a fit of blatant populism the Labour administration responded by putting Alec Jeffreys forward. At the ceremony they were mortified when Alec spent part of his speech praising Bob as a professional inspiration. The Labour councillors hated Bob as the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council and the most effective challenger to the Labour orthodoxy in what was effectively a one-party state.

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