Zoologist was sacked for believing in Loch Ness monster

Zoologist was sacked for believing in Loch Ness monster

01/01/2022

Natural History Museum zoologist WAS sacked for believing in the Loch Ness monster, newly released documents reveal

  • Dr Denys Tucker lost job at Natural History Museum for belief in Loch Ness monster
  • Career ended abruptly at age 39 when he was fired for alleged insubordination
  • Dismissal down to belief in creature rather than concerns about professional behaviour  

The sacking of a leading zoologist from one of Britain’s most prestigious museums has remained a mystery for decades.

But newly released documents reveal that Dr Denys Tucker lost his job at the Natural History Museum due to his belief in the existence of the Loch Ness monster.

Dr Tucker began his academic career after serving in the Second World War as a pilot, joining the museum in 1949 as a scientific officer in the department of zoology. He rose up the ranks and became a principal scientific officer in 1957.

However, when Dr Tucker was 39, his career came to an abrupt end. In 1960, he was fired for alleged insubordination, which stunned colleagues and sparked decades of speculation over his beliefs about Loch Ness. 

The newly uncovered documents, from the museum’s board of trustees, reinforce the view that his dismissal was down to his belief in the creature rather than concerns about his professional behaviour.

Ridiculed: Newly released documents reveal that Dr Denys Tucker (pictured) lost his job at the Natural History Museum due to his belief in the existence of the Loch Ness monster

The ignominy of the sacking ensured he never worked again in a senior academic post. Months before his exit, he wrote in the New Scientist magazine of his belief that the supposed monster – by then the subject of thousands of alleged sightings – must be a plesiosaur, a reptile thought to have been extinct for 70million years.

The documents from the board of trustees have now revealed the level of paranoia among senior figures at the museum who feared potential reputational damage if it was perceived to be taking the monster’s existence seriously.

A memo issued to staff by the board in 1959 warned: ‘The trustees wish it to be known that they do not approve of the spending of official time or official leave on the so-called Loch Ness Phenomenon.’ The memo added: ‘If, as a result of the activities of members of the staff, the museum is involved in undesirable publicity, [the trustees] will be gravely displeased.’

Faked: Staged 1934 Nessie photo

The official reason for Dr Tucker’s dismissal was ‘continued, vexatious, insubordinate and generally offensive conduct towards the museum’s director and other senior staff’. 

The documents also reveal that Dr Tucker tried to win funding from the Royal Society for a scientific project, but failed to get an interview. 

In a newspaper cutting from the time, held in the museum’s archive, he is quoted as saying: ‘I put the project up to the Natural History Museum. The museum does send out expeditions to collect specimens. But they didn’t like the idea of a Loch Ness expedition at all.

‘They refused me leave to lecture on the subject. Since I was sacked, they have banned me from the library. I had an international reputation as a zoologist. Now I’m like a struck off lawyer.’

He later embarked on an unsuccessful legal battle against the museum to be reinstated, which included launching a legal case against the leader of the trustees, then-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Fisher.

In the face of ridicule from leading scientists, Dr Tucker even claimed to have seen the monster.

Dr Tucker died in France in 2009, unrepentant in his belief in its existence.


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