Artful vice

December 5, 1997

Kingston University's departing vice chancellor, Robert Smith, appears to have union relations down to a fine art. Natfhe leaders have complained about the university spending a cool Pounds 11,961 and 50p (including VAT) on a portrait of Dr Smith, to be exhibited in the university art gallery alongside portraits of former Kingston heads. The painting, by artist to the royals Tai-shan Schierenberg, marks Dr Smith's forthcoming retirement. But Natfhe says the money would have been better spent on avoiding staff redundancies. A spokeswoman said governors made the decision to commission the portrait, which will be owned by the university.

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