Former Ulster leader called to court over charges related to driving while unfit

January 13, 2006

Gerry McKenna, the former vice-chancellor of Ulster University, was scheduled to appear in court this week to face a charge of driving under the influence of excess alcohol.

It is understood that Professor McKenna, who left his job after an investigation into his conduct, was recently summonsed by police to appear at Coleraine Magistrates' Court in Londonderry. It is believed that he was scheduled to face two charges after a vehicle he was driving was stopped by police officers in Coleraine on July 14 last year. Professor McKenna was subsequently summonsed on one charge of driving with excess alcohol in his blood and another of driving while unfit through drink or drugs.

Professor McKenna stepped down as vice-chancellor in May 2005 after an investigation by Sir Michael Buckley concluded that he had a case to answer over allegations of attending official meetings impaired by alcohol, harsh treatment of staff and lax financial controls. He was due to return to the university on August 1, 2005, as president for one year.

But he has yet to return and the university began proceedings last month to sack him. That led Professor McKenna to begin a civil action at the High Court in Belfast. As The Times Higher went to press, the case looked near a resolution. Peter Coll, Professor McKenna's barrister, said: "In the course of today, the matter should be brought to an end."

Claire Regan is a reporter for The Belfast Telegraph .

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