Evans vows action after being passed over again

June 12, 1998

Campaigning Cambridge University lecturer Gill Evans has said she will return to the High Court after failing to win a chair in this year's round of promotions after 18 years at the university. She has also made a new application for a victimisation tribunal.

This week, hundreds of Cambridge academics were disappointed as only an estimated 12 chairs and 30 readerships were awarded in the promotions round. Under new rules, academics were able to apply for the posts for the first time and, if unsuccessful, they can demand feedback.

Dr Evans, a 1986-88 British Academy Research Reader with 34 published books and 140 articles in refereed journals, has already received her feedback. It amounts to just one paragraph. "The whole system still leaves a great deal to be desired," Dr Evans said.

She has already won leave in the High Court for a judicial review of the university's procedures for promoting academic staff. Mr Justice Sedley granted Dr Evans leave in 1997 but put proceedings on hold to allow Cambridge to review its practices.

Cambridge has reviewed the system, but Dr Evans is still unsatisfied. Justice Sedley said that feedback for rejected applicants should show that proper care was taken "over something of great importance to the candidate". In giving reasons for rejection, his judgment said, the information should be sufficient to make it clear to the candidate what to do next time and to make sure no important information has been disregarded.

"People are getting a mere paragraph of a very general kind," Dr Evans said. "This is not adequate to meet the terms Sedley set down." Dr Evans has contacted the Crown Office to set a date for the full hearing in the High Court.

David Livesey, secretary general to Cambridge's general board, said he could not comment on individual cases because the board will not announce the promotions to the university until late July.

But he said he was confident that the new arrangements for this year's round "meet fully" with Justice Sedley's judgment. "All the details of the procedures for the system this year were published to the 3,300 members of the Regent House, and they agreed. Feedback is available to all applicants."

Dr Evans has also applied to take Cambridge to tribunal for victimisation. She believes that her high-profile campaign has already precluded her from ever being promoted.

She will cite recent verbal attacks on her in a public Senate House debate, including slurs from two members of the Regent House, which ratifies the promotions decisions. "The general board, which has to make these decisions, hates me," she said.

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