In the news: Brian Lang

August 24, 2001

Not even managing a library gave Brian Lang a quiet life. As chief executive of the British Library from 1991 until last year he was in charge of its controversial move to a new building in St Pancras, with attendant delays, major overspends, striking staff and readers who did not want to leave the original Round Reading Room. He was exon-erated of any responsibility. Now, as vice-chancellor of St Andrews University, he faces an onslaught of publicity surrounding the imminent arrival of Prince William.

The bonuses of educating the prince became apparent this week when the university did not need to go through clearing for the first time in 20 years because it had had so many high-quality applicants.

But there have been downsides. Dr Lang complained to the Press Complaints Commission about newspaper reports of a hoax bomb being sent to the university by the Scottish National Liberation Army. He also had to reverse a decision to allow a documentary on the university after students said it would add to the media frenzy. He also clashed with them over free speech after threatening to expel those who gossiped about the prince to press.

As if this were not enough, Dr Lang faces allegations of bullying by the university's events and sponsorship officer. He has "utterly denied" the allegations and has also denied that he has led a "jet set" lifestyle since taking the vice-chancellor post. He is threatening legal action.

Dr Lang, 55, was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh. After field research in Kenya, he lectured in social anthropology at Aarhus University before joining the Social Science Research Council. In the 1980s, he worked for the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Trust.

Twice married, with two sons and a daughter, he is soon to marry his girlfriend, a London PR executive.

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