Couple who went sick and ran pub settle for Pounds 25,000

August 21, 1998

A FORMER college principal and his lover, sacked after an inquiry by governors into staff complaints, have settled claims of unfair dismissal out of court.

Neil Preston, dismissed as principal of Stoke on Trent College in December 1996 for "serious and consistent breaches of his contract of employment", and Helen Chandler, sacked as marketing and programme planning director because of "gross misconduct, gross negligence or gross incompetence", have received an estimated Pounds 25,000 between them as part of the settlement.

Both had made claims of unfair dismissal against the college and Mrs Chandler had also lodged a sex discrimination complaint. All these have now been dropped.

The college, which built up an Pounds 8 million budget shortfall under Mr Preston, decided it would cost too much to fight the cases.

But Paul Mackney, general secretary of university and college lecturers' union Natfhe, called the decision "ill-advised". He said staff would be outraged at the pay-offs when nearly 200 had been made redundant due to the college's financial problems, at only the minimum rate of compensation.

The couple had not worked at the college since September 1996, when both took sick leave on full pay but were found running a pub in North Wales.

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