Bills and ills

July 31, 1998

Cambridge University has taken a combative approach to a barrage of criticism from the Campaign for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards, which criticised the university, and others, for spending tens of thousands of pounds of public money on legal bills without proper accountability. Who decides when to hire the lawyers and when to negotiate, and why can't the legal bills be itemised for public scrutiny, Cafas asked. The university has reacted swiftly. It has begun moves to get back the legal fees it has spent on the long-running battle over equal opportunities with lecturer Gill Evans, who happens to be a founder member of Cafas. Cambridge has so far spent at least Pounds 125,000 in legal fees during its ongoing court battles with Evans, but it can only expect to force her to stump up about Pounds 10,000, it is understood, as Dr Evans has won one out of the three cases. Dr Evans is unperturbed. She now has grounds for requesting an itemised version of Cambridge's legal bill, which Cambridge has so far been reluctant to hand over. Accountability, Cafas has been quick to point out, is especially important at Cambridge. It has been careful to ensure that no conflicts of interest arise from the fact that the university's treasurer, Joanna Womack, is the wife of a senior partner at the university's law firm.

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