Ex-online boss wins £250,000

January 17, 2003

A European Commission research consortium that was behind plans for a pan-European virtual university has been ordered to pay £250,000 to its former director.

Peter Goodall, founder and former director-general of the European Commission's European Network for Integrated Materials Management (Enimm), has won a High Court counterclaim for unpaid management fees he accumulated as head of the group and for damages over his forced departure in 2001.

Professor Goodall set up Enimm as an EC European economic interest group in 1994. The group won funding under the Adapt programme for two projects into supply-chain management and training in innovation.

It attempted to launch a European virtual university, but Professor Goodall fell out with fellow manager Richard Bennett over its direction.

Relations became so bad between the two that both claimed the other made it "impossible" to carry out their management functions. Each claimed the other was seeking self-aggrandisement and personal gain, which both deny.

Professor Goodall's court claim said he felt he had been forced out of Enimm by Mr Bennett and others.

Professor Goodall, a former research group headat the University of Wales, resigned from Enimm in June 2001. In September that year, Enimm issued court proceedings against him, alleging he had property belonging to Enimm and had wrongly spent £13,000 of Enimm money.

Professor Goodall counter-claimed, demanding £2,000 in unpaid management fees for his services to the consortium, and a further £24,000 relating to his enforced departure and damages for wrongful dismissal. Enimm failed to put in a defence to Professor Goodall's counterclaim and has been ordered to pay up.

Mr Bennett, still technically in charge of Enimm, said that it could not defend Professor Goodall's counterclaim because the group was defunct and had no money. "This was a victory by default, and everything in his claim is spurious."

He said it was unlikely that the group's university members, which included Luton and Cranfield, would have to pay up as most had resigned membership.

Meanwhile, it is understood that some universities that contributed to the virtual university project, developing a framework and course materials, have not been paid.

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