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Back-stabbed by department head, claims Penkowa

Ex-DR journalist and head of Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology battle it out in the comments section. This is after the journalist claimed that he went behind Milena Penkowa's back and revealed confidential information

The head of the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology Albert Gjedde went behind his own staff member Milena Penkowa’s back, and revealed information to a former TV journalist, Berit Wheler, about her involvement in a big scientific fraud case.

This is according to Milena Penkowa herself, who has talked to the Danish section of this media, Universitetsavisen. Her story is confirmed by the DR journalist, but denied by the head of department Albert Gjedde himself.

They have subsequently entered into a war of words on the comments section of the Danish section of this site, Universitetsavisen.

Read: War of words over meeting on Penkowa

Danish speakers can read the claims and the comments in the Danish article here.

It would be big

Brain scientist Milena Penkowa is accused of manipulating results on cancer research. She faces an ongoing investigation by the Commitees for Scientific Dishonesty (UVVU).

The conversations between the department head and the journalist took place last year, before the story broke about the Penkowa case. According to Milena Penkowa, who has spoken to Universitetsavisen, she was aware that her former boss at the University of Copenhagen had »held meetings in Aarhus about her person«.

Her claim is backed up by a former member of staff at the national public service TV station DR, Berit Wheler, who says that she met Albert Gjedde at the Café Jorden in Aarhus in September 2010. Here he openly spoke about a big case against Milena Penkowa that was underway.

Differing versions

»He [Albert Gjedde…ed.] said, that he actually had been contacted by people who accused her of scientific fraud. He said that was something was on the way, and that it would be big,« Berit Wheler says.

»He said that when the case was over, Milena would either be seen as a saint or as guilty of the largest swindle in Danish research history,« she adds.

»At this time, I sat there thinking: Good lord, he is actually a rotten man. Is he actually sitting there, telling me about one of his staff members like this?«

Threatened with exposure

Albert Gjedde admits talking to her, but has a completely different version of the conversation.

Gjedde says that the DR journalist wanted him to take part in a programme that had the purpose of clearing Penkowa’s reputation. After finding out that this was going to be the angle, he said that he would not take part in the programme, but was then pressured by the journalist.

»If you were not willing to take part in the programme, you could expect to see yourself exposed as participant in a plot to crush Penkowa,« he says.

No-one deserves this

Berit Wheler’s programme if she ever meant to make one, was never aired, and she says that she quit her job at DR shortly after, due to problems with upholding journalistic standards after the cutbacks at the TV station. She has taken up a career in nursing, and has since then come to see Milena Penkowa as a friend.

»The only thing I thought then was that I had better get hold of the girl, because no matter what her crime is, no-one deserves to have their boss sit there saying these things.«

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