Keele book inquiry 'whitewash'

December 24, 1999

The brief report that Keele University has "cleared itself of improper behaviour" over its sale of the Turner collection of rare mathematics books to a secondhand book dealer is well expressed.

What you do not record is that the way it cleared itself of improper behaviour was by issuing as a press release a six-page "summary" of its audit committee's seven-page report, which left out all the awkward bits that do not support such a judgement. The committee's report in fact expressed considerable concerns about the process and described very curious features of the way Keele went about selling off the collection. If the "summary" had been labelled "whitewash" that might have been more accurate.

Interested readers might like to request a copy of the audit committee's actual report, not the doctored version, from the Keele Press Office (01782-583375).

John Fauvel

Senior lecturer in mathematics

The Open University

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