Call for more to resign in Portmouth expenses row

October 13, 1995

Staff at Portsmouth University this week called for the resignation of Stuart Waring, chair of governors, as well as that of a senior member of the board and ex audit committee chairman Charles Brims, following further revelations about their actions with regard to the former vice chancellor expenses irregularities.

Mr Waring's role in protecting Neil Merritt and the enforced resignation of John Pickering, his deputy, has been criticised in an independent report by Jeremy Lever QC. Mr Waring was expected to face tough questioning from staff and governors on Wednesday, when he sought ratification of his post.

This follows revelations by Malcolm McVicar, pro-vice chancellor at the university, that Mr Waring had demanded support for his decision not to let Mr Merritt resign, in spite of knowing about his expenses irregularities and the fact that he had been given a final warning.

Dr McVicar gave the evidence on behalf of the university during the industrial tribunal hearing of the case brought by Bonnie Tall, ex secretary to Mr Merritt, for constructive dismissal. Mrs Tall won her case, but the university is refusing to reinstate her and is considering appealing against the judgment.

Dave Fysh, chair of the Natfhe branch which has called for her reinstatement and is calling for the resignation of both Mr Waring and Mr Brims, said other staff also supported calls for the resignations. "This is an opportunity for Mr Waring to explain his actions. If he cannot he should resign," Mr Fysh said.

Four copies of the full report of the independent inquiry on how Mr Waring and other governors dealt with the former vice chancellor's expenses were due to be placed in the university library today. Copies were also issued this week to those mentioned in the report such as Professor Pickering.

But Professor Pickering's solicitor, Peter Stockwell, said that he was unable to comment on the contents because of the "gagging" conditions imposed on disclosure of the report. "As far as the library is concerned, reading of the report is restricted to holders of university library cards and they will be required to agree that they will not reproduce, copy, or publish any part of it, or take it out of the library," Mr Stockwell said.

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