Lunch with... Lord Winston

Written by Jess Bowie on 7 December 2014 in Culture
Britain’s best-known reproductive health expert sits down for lunch with Jess Bowie

Medical doctor, award-winning scientist, author and television presenter are just a few of the titles that could be used to describe Robert Winston. A pioneer of IVF techniques, Winston is both professor of science and society and emeritus professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London. He sits on the red benches as a Labour peer and is also chairman of the Genesis Research Trust. 

The restaurant 

Marco’s New York Italian, Sheffield
The latest culinary endeavour from celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. There are currently five branches across the UK. The menu, both adventurous and familiar, makes the most of fresh local produce and gives diners a taste of the best of what Italy and NYC have to offer. 

The menu

Grilled sea bass with lemon and new potatoes and a side of lazy fries; gnocchi primavera with spinach, pea, rocket, parmesan cream and a side of roasted Mediterranean vegetable salad.

We discussed

The Heath Select Committee

I cannot believe [homeopathy and astrology supporter] David Tredinnick is on that committee. Let me say firmly: I think his views are lunatic. He is absolutely right and able to stand for Parliament and to represent a constituency, but views which have no basis in fact… you know it wouldn’t be so different from having an errant racist on an immigration committee. It’s barmy.

The Westminster system

MPs today have a worrying lack of expertise in life. More and more people are coming into Parliament expecting to be in a cabinet or leader in five or six years. If you think about it, most people take 10 or 15 or 20 years to get the expertise to run a factory or a business – you don’t become a surgeon in 10 years. This is a worrisome system. I think this also partially explains the very poor regard the Upper House has. There is a complete lack of understanding of what we do.

Dawkins’s comments about rape and Islam

I’m a friend of Richard Dawkins. I’m genuinely fond of him, I hope you record that. I also admire the quality of his writing at its best, although I don’t admire the quality of his writing at his worst. The God Delusion is a bad book, it’s poorly researched and he hasn’t bothered to go back to the sources to understand the religions he’s writing about. Scientists were delighted when he came out against God because Richard suddenly made atheism intellectually and emotionally justified in a way it hadn’t been before. With regards to these recent public pronouncements, I don’t know what he was intending to do, I don’t understand why he said what he did about rape, for example. I know he hates political correctness because he thinks it is trivial but sometimes people need the trivial.

The cost of fertility treatments

If you look at the cost of IVF cycles in Britain, in one authority the NHS will be charging the purchasing group around £1000 a cycle and in another part of the country they will be charging £6000. So you have to ask yourself – what happened? What it means is that the NHS is basically just making up the cost – they are making up numbers. That is really unsafe. I know in a free market economy you can’t really have price controls, but we need a new model with better regulations.

Male (in)fertility myths

The laptop theory was a misuse of statistics, cooking has no effect and neither does cycling. With cycling, the person in question will just live longer. It is all nonsense really.


Marco's is perfect for

Large groups with a variety of tastes.

Not suitable for 

A quiet night out.

The cost

Set lunch menu: 2 courses for £14; 3 courses for £18.

To book a table at Marco’s call 0114 399 0990, or visit /marcos-sheffield

Tags: David tredinnick, Dawkins, Fertility, Homeopathy, Robert Winston

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