The good news is that the reasons have nothing to do with the ONS philosophy behind this project. Indeed, I was constantly surprised at how receptive people seemed to be to this approach. This should be some encouragement in the dark days that lie ahead, although I expect it won't be.
There are a number of reasons we have called a halt. I always had reservations about the amount of time I would have been able to devote to the project, and I was aware that to be successful, it would need more time than I would have been able to give. In the end, it was my institutional situation which sealed its fate, with both myself and my collaborator being warned off proceeding. Looking at the current UK funding situation, this simply isn't the time to invest my career in laboratory research anyway.
It is possible that the project might resume at a lower level than we originally envisioned at some future time, but I doubt it, and even if it did, significant involvement on my part is unlikely.
A sad day.