Disabled ex-trader takes LBS to court

September 3, 2004

A former Wall Street trader who was forced to put his academic studies on hold when he was disabled in a car accident is to ask the High Court to overturn a decision by the London Business School to withhold his masters degree.

Lawrence McCann, a former high-flying trader at Morgan Stanley in New York, was injured so badly in a hit-and-run incident, which happened while he was studying for his masters in finance in 1996, that a priest administered last rites in hospital.

But when he tried to return to the college to complete his final project in early 2002, after a lengthy rehabilitation period and the conclusion of a criminal case against the hit-and-run driver, the school told him it had failed his project some years earlier because he had not submitted it on time.

Nine years after he enrolled on the £17,000, full-time masters in finance and after a number of appeals and the eventual submission of his project last year, Mr McCann has still not received his degree. He is now mired in a procedural row with the school.

His lawyer, London-based education specialist Jaswinder Gill, told The Times Higher : "In my view his treatment has not been fair and reasonable, and I believe that there have been procedural irregularities. I have advised him that he has good grounds to succeed in a judicial review application to quash the school's decisions."

Mr Gill said that Mr McCann, who is now living on state disability benefit in New York State, was not seeking financial compensation at this stage, even though he had spent tens of thousands of pounds on the course fees, the relocation of his family to London and numerous trips across the Atlantic.

The accident happened when Mr McCann, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, returned to the US in the summer of 1996 to set up home and enrol his two children at an American school.

LBS was informed within weeks of the accident and the school sent two letters during 1997 acknowledging the injury and discussing the referral of the project.

In early 2002, Mr McCann returned to London to discuss the resumption of his final project, only to be told that he had already failed the entire degree.

In August 2002, Mr McCann was granted special permission to submit the final project, but last summer he was told it had failed.

His lawyer will argue that the school breached its procedures and treated him unfairly by failing to provide a preliminary grade and feedback and by denying him a chance to resubmit. The school has offered him an exceptional opportunity to start a new project from scratch, but he claims this is unfair.

Judith Fry, secretary to the Examinations Committee and Boards of Examiners, said: "Lawrence McCann has not failed his masters in finance degree. Mr McCann still has the opportunity to complete the requirements for the degree and thereby to obtain his degree from London Business School."

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