APU row simmers on

February 27, 1998

Staff are calling for an external investigation into allegations of nepotism and bullying at Anglia Polytechnic University, after the university's audit and compliance committee found business school head Hugh Jenkins innocent of the charges.

Allegations, led by the head of the business school's division of management development, John Watts, have centred on the appointment, performance and promotion of Professor Jenkins's son, Jonathan, who is a lecturer at the division.

Documents obtained by The THES show that despite being dismissed from another part of the university and a string of complaints about his work at the management development division, Mr Jenkins was given a permanent contract at the end of his probationary period without any consultation with his immediate line manager, Mr Watts.

Mr Watts claims he was forced to "rubber stamp" the appointment, and has complained that he had no input into two promotions offered to Mr Jenkins.

Last week the university ruled that all suggestions of nepotism were "without foundation" and that the matter was closed.

But at least five staff at the management development division, who spoke to The THES but did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, have criticised the internal investigation.

The staff are unhappy that the committee's remit appears to have fallen short of comprehensively reinvestigating the allegations, made independently of each other over a number of years. Instead the committee was asked to "confirm that they had been properly investigated" in the past, as the university stated.

The staff are also unhappy that they, and other relevant witnesses, were not called to give evidence to the committee.

Mr Watts said this week that he is expecting disciplinary procedures against him for raising the complaints and said he wants the issues "to be brought out into the open".

After the audit and compliance committee meeting, the university said that "in no case was evidence found to support these allegations".

In a written submission to the audit and compliance committee, Mr Watts asked that the committee call Vernon Trafford, a reader at the business school who was previously Mr Jenkins's line manager, to give evidence.

The university has confirmed that he was not called, "because he made a statement in the earlier investigation".

A spokesman for APU said: "The audit committee investigated broadly all the allegations made by John Watts. This has taken up a huge amount of time."

Both Professor and Mr Jenkins declined to comment.

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