Bullying probe hits Anglia

February 6, 1998

Allegations of nepotism and bullying against Anglia Polytechnic University Business School head Hugh Jenkins are under investigation.

The university's audit and compliance committee met this week to re-examine a long-running dispute about the position of Professor Jenkins's son Jonathan, who is a lecturer at the business school, but currently on sick leave.

Mr Jenkins joined the business school's division of management development in 1995, when his father was head of the division. Professor Jenkins was subsequently promoted to head of the school and was replaced as head of the management development division by John Watts.

In a circular to colleagues, Mr Watts said that he has been subject to an "extreme form of harassment" from Professor Jenkins, because he had voiced colleagues' and clients' complaints about the competence of his son and resisted "improper" pressure to promote him.

Mr Jenkins's academic record has not been good. In January 1997 he was dismissed as a paid marker at an accounting exam body. In 1994-95, before he joined the management development division, Mr Jenkins was a freelance lecturer in accountancy at APU. His boss, David Cropper, head of the professional accounting courses, dismissed him in 1995.

Dr Cropper, who is now retired, said: "After working for me for a year and a half, I decided not to renew his contract. At the end of the day, his standards fell well below those that are acceptable."

Mr Watts first raised formal complaints about Professor Jenkins's son in May 1997. In July 1997 he received a memo from Professor Jenkins.

Professor Jenkins said: "It has disappointed me considerably that you have an attitude of almost wanting the business school not to succeed and that you become preoccupied with personal animosities."

In the memo he also announced his intention to restructure the division and remove Mr Watts from a managerial role.

"I do not see how this acrimonious situation can continue and how you can continue as a head of division," Professor Jenkins said. "I am taking the opportunity to look for a new structure to take the management development division forward. I value your academic qualities and contribution highly, and I hope you will undertake a major academic role in the new structure."

Professor Jenkins said that he intended the structure to be in place by September 1997, but no change has yet been made. Mr Watts remains head of division.

APU pro vice-chancellor Steve Marshall said: "Over quite a period, a number of allegations have been made, many anonymously, about events in the Anglia Business School. Each allegation was investigated at the time and so far none has been substantiated."

He confirmed that the audit and compliance committee had been invited by the university secretary to review the complaints "to confirm that they have been properly investigated".

After an initial meeting this week, the board of governors' sub-committee will meet again next week, when they expect to reach a conclusion. He added that the position of Professor Jenkins, and his son, "is not in question at all".

Mr Jenkins said he had been asked by the university not to comment. Professor Jenkins also referred calls to the university. Colin Dixon, the Natfhe representative, said that the union had agreed not to discuss the case.

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