One of the country’s leading cancer charities has expressed its opposition to a bill aiming to reduce the threat of litigation in cancer treatment.

The Medical Innovation Bill, spearheaded by Conservative peer Lord Saatchi, wants to offer greater immunity to doctors who use experimental techniques in treating cancer patients.

More than 100 researchers and doctors signed a letter in today’s Times newspaper opposing the legislation.

They included several clinical researchers funded by Cancer Research UK, and the charity has made it clear it does not support the bill in its current form.

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information, said: ‘There is a risk of unintended consequences, such as undermining the value of research. These concerns lead us to conclude that there is no pressing need for this legislation.’

Woolnough said the charity was sympathetic to the views of Saatchi, who was inspired to push for a change in the law after the death of his wife from ovarian cancer three years ago.

But she added that the risk of legal action is not currently seen as an impediment to giving patients the best possible care.

The bill has been through committee stage in the House of Lords but has yet to be debated in the House of Commons.

The Department of Health has said it is ‘minded’ to support the legislation after receiving assurances on safeguards protecting patients.