Dismissed manager sues over doubts about his candour in applications

Internal investigation found that Manchester was misled over criminal past. Melanie Newman reports

June 11, 2009

A manager is suing his university for dismissing him after it discovered that he had a criminal record.

Andrew Young claims that the University of Manchester did not ask whether he had a conviction before employing him as a research contracts officer, and that managers failed to carry out criminal records checks.

The university claims that Mr Young misled its managers during the recruitment process.

Mr Young was convicted of theft and money laundering in 2004.

His conviction related to his work as a lawyer, and he was struck off the roll of solicitors. He served two years of a four-year prison term before being released on parole in 2006.

In the same year, Mr Young obtained a job as a research contracts officer on a nine-month contract at the university. He later moved to a permanent post.

In May 2008, Graham Smith, the university's head of human resources, told him that his conviction had come to light.

Mr Young was suspended from work at the university on charges of falsifying his application form and failing to declare his true employment record while an investigation was carried out under serious misconduct procedures.

The evidence from the investigation and Mr Young's response were passed to Alan Gilbert, Manchester's vice-chancellor, who concluded that "it was not appropriate" for a serious misconduct panel to be convened.

However, Professor Gilbert set up a separate panel to consider whether the university had sufficient "trust and confidence" in Mr Young.

This panel found in favour of the university, and Mr Young was dismissed with three months' notice.

The dismissal letter said there was "clear evidence" that Mr Young had "deliberately and dishonestly" misled his interviewing panels and "falsely claimed and created an untrue impression" that he was a practising solicitor.

Mr Young appealed against his dismissal, but the appeal panel upheld the original panel's findings. In his claim to the Manchester employment tribunal, which was due to hear the case this week, Mr Young said the university's application form made clear that a Criminal Records Bureau search would be done on all shortlisted applicants and that a criminal record would "not necessarily be a bar" to obtaining a post.

Mr Young said that he was never asked to disclose any conviction or to explain the two-year gap on his CV caused by his spell behind bars. He also said that his references were not taken up.

"The onus was on the university to ascertain whether or not I had a criminal conviction - it failed to do so," he said.

In its response, the university said Mr Young was asked during his interviews about his situation from July 2004 onwards, to which he replied that he had been looking after his daughter.

The recruitment panels "also understood both from the contents of the application forms and his responses to their questions that Mr Young was a practising solicitor", it said, negating the need for a Criminal Records Bureau check.

Mr Young's role was "senior and commercially sensitive" in nature and it included negotiating contracts with Manchester's external partners, the university added, and his continuing employment risked damaging the institution's reputation.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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