Derby v-c invites staff to view his expenses claims

June 11, 2009

While MPs continue to feel the wrath of the electorate over their dubious expenses claims, one vice-chancellor has taken the bull by the horns and allowed staff to scrutinise his financial records.

John Coyne, vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, has written to all staff detailing his expenses for the 2007-08 academic year.

The picture that emerges is of a vice-chancellor with a modest approach to life, and someone who spends a great deal of time on the road.

Professor Coyne claimed a total of £5,057 in 2007-08, including £2,172 for fuel, £908 for hotels and just £103 for entertaining.

On the way to business in Geneva in June 2008, he breakfasted at Birmingham Airport for the princely sum of £3.50.

His revelations were prompted by a Sunday newspaper's request under Freedom of Information legislation. It is believed to be seeking details of the expenses claimed by all UK vice-chancellors.

"I am uncomfortable at the thought that an external body should have sight of them, and possibly even publish them, without sharing with my colleagues first," Professor Coyne wrote in a memo to staff.

"If they are a matter of interest at all, it is to those of our community and my colleagues rather than the public at large."

The memo reveals that he supplies and drives his own car and pays for a parking permit out of his own pocket.

Professor Coyne told Times Higher Education that with all the "fuss and palaver" surrounding MPs' expenses, publishing the information "seemed the right and proper thing to do".

He added that within a few minutes of emailing staff, he received a response from a colleague respectfully declining the invitation to scrutinise his financial affairs further.

"They said: 'We don't need to go and look, we know you are a man of integrity, the kind of bloke who would clean his own moat,'" Professor Coyne said.

His daughter described him as a "right Yorkshire cheapskate", he added.

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