Bolton throws out appeal for employees sacked over alleged press leaks

UCU reacts by pledging to instruct lawyers to fight decision

May 7, 2015

Source: University of Bolton

The University of Bolton has thrown out the appeals of two former employees who were dismissed by the institution in March, allegedly for leaking information about the vice-chancellor to the press.

Damien Markey, a senior lecturer in visual effects for film and television, and his wife, Jennifer Markey, an academic administrator in the health and community studies department, deny any involvement in leaking stories.

They appealed the decisions and each received a hearing last month.

“The appeals of Mr Damien Markey and Mrs Jennifer Markey against their dismissals for gross misconduct have been completed,” a Bolton spokesman said in a written statement. “Both appeals were unsuccessful.”

He added that the appeals had taken the form of a “comprehensive re-hearing of the case against both employees and the findings of gross misconduct stand”.

“The university is aware that this case has attracted a considerable degree of attention and comment, with attempts in some quarters to improperly influence the outcome of the appeal process and bring the university into disrepute,” the statement added.

The university said that it was “unable to comment on the details of the cases, out of respect for the confidentiality of the process and the privacy rights of those involved”, and that “the university’s procedures are now concluded”.

The University and College Union, the Bolton branch of which Mr Markey is secretary, has previously pledged to instruct its lawyers to “initiate legal action” and “push on with a national campaign for justice for Damien and Jenny” if the appeal hearings did not find that they had been unfairly dismissed.

Both the UCU and Unison, the union that represented Ms Markey during the appeal, have announced a demonstration in support of the Markeys to take place in Bolton town centre on 16 May.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: ‘The way Bolton…has treated the Markeys has been disgraceful from the very start. Sneaking the news of their unsuccessful appeals out at 5pm on election day is pretty low.

“The university should be under no illusion here about the strength of feeling within the national union, of its own students, of the wider academic community and the people of Bolton. We will be instructing our lawyers to fight this.

“If you treat staff badly then you should expect a reaction. People are understandably disgusted by what the university has done – that is why thousands have signed a petition calling for the Markeys’ reinstatement and many will be out in force in Bolton next Saturday to protest about the university’s behaviour.”

Steve Stott, North West regional manager for Unison, added: “Jenny and Damien have been treated very harshly by the university and it is rare for a high-profile employer to behave so badly. University staff, students and the general public are surprised and outraged that an important local employer would behave in this way.

“Unison’s lawyers have been instructed to seek to obtain justice through the courts. We will continue to support Jenny and campaign for a fair outcome.”

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