LONDON, April 17 (UPI) -- A British scientist has been sentenced to three months in jail for falsifying test results during research on experimental anti-cancer drugs, officials said.
Steven Eaton, from Cambridgeshire, is the first person in Britain to be sentenced under scientific safety laws, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Eaton, 47, was working at the Edinburgh branch of U.S. pharmaceutical firm Aptuit in 2009 when he manipulated the results of an experiment so it was considered successful when it had in fact failed, officials said.
When supervisors noticed discrepancies in his work they reported it to Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, whose regulators determined Eaton had been falsely reporting research results since 2003.
If Eaton's work had resulted in drugs being released, cancer patients who took them could have been harmed, the court was told.
Eaton's attorney Jim Stephenson said his client had given up working as a scientist. Eaton had been under a lot of pressure and had been having problems in his person life, he said.
"He is unlikely to ever undertake this type of work ever again," Stephenson said.
Gerald Heddell, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's director of inspection, enforcement and standards, said the conviction was justified.
"This conviction sends a message that we will not hesitate to prosecute those whose actions have the potential to harm public health."