A trade union activist at Liverpool John Moores University was subjected to a series of false allegations of dishonesty and misconduct by her colleagues, the vice-chancellor has ruled. In one complaint, evidence against Natfhe branch secretary and biosciences lecturer Maggie Andrews was "fabricated", it has emerged.
In a statement published on the university's website, vice-chancellor Michael Brown draws a line under an eight-year dispute, ruling that a string of allegations made against Ms Andrews in 1995 had no substance.
Ruling on a grievance appeal hearing from late 2000, Professor Brown says:
"I have concluded, on the basis of evidence provided to me, that there is no substance to the allegation raised in May 1995 that Dr Andrews had fraudulently signed a document with the intention of misleading others.
This allegation was false on the basis of the evidence available to the grievance appeal hearing."
On a separate complaint, he says: "I have concluded that an alleged 'student' petition presented as evidence supporting a complaint made against Dr Andrews in a memorandum dated May 16 1995 was a fabrication produced by person or persons unknown."
Professor Brown also says that allegations raised in May 1995 that Dr Andrews had improperly cancelled lectures "are not supported by the facts before me and I have therefore accepted Dr Andrews' explanation of events.
I conclude that any allegations of dishonesty and/or improper conduct against Dr Andrews in relation to these incidents should be struck from the record. I now consider the matter to be closed".
He says that some of the action by staff in making false complaints against Dr Andrews should warrant disciplinary action, but "Dr Andrews and I agree that the pursuit of these matters now would not be in the spirit of reconciliation".
He says that he expects all staff in the School of Biomolecular Sciences, Biological and Earth Sciences and Pharmacy and Chemistry to "make every effort to attempt to return to a normal working relationship with Dr Andrews... As director of the school, Hilary Evans is expected to take a lead in facilitating improved relationships."
Bad relations between Dr Andrews and her colleagues worsened in 1996 when she raised concerns inside the university that the school was using erroneous teaching material.
The THES reported in March 1999 that that a number of independent experts in physiology had dismissed an undergraduate teaching hand-out used by the school as "fundamentally wrong", "misleading" and "inadequate". The material - which was not brought to The THES ' attention by Dr Andrews - was designed to teach students about the basics in human respiration.
One expert said the material was so misleading it could lead students to the erroneous conclusion that all fish had lungs.
Although it later emerged that Dr Andrews had raised concerns about the material three years earlier in 1996, it took The THES report to prompt the university to set up an academic review panel to examine the material. The panel ruled in October 1999 that the material had been "confusing".
Professor Brown, who took office in 2000 and was not in charge at the time of the allegations and complaints about teaching material, says in his statement: "Dr Andrews was correct to raise concerns about the accuracy of teaching materials. This has been established by a subsequent independent inquiry."
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