Lecturer reinstated

June 26, 1998

A college lecturer has won his appeal against dismissal for "gross misconduct" but will still get a formal warning from managers.

The University College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, which sacked social sciences reader David Harris in April for the alleged "harassment and bullying" of his boss, decided to reinstate him this week after a rehearing of the case.

In a statement, the college said the rehearing had sustained Dr Harris's appeal, but found him "guilty of misconduct", for which he would receive a formal oral warning. A spokesman declined to comment further because of a pending appeal against dismissal by media studies senior lecturer Nigel Mace, who was also accused of misconduct.

Dr Harris's case became a battlefield between lecturers' union Natfhe and the Association of University Teachers when Natfhe decided to back the "harassment and bullying" claims while the AUT chose to support the accused lecturer.

One Natfhe member quit the union, and two others wrote letters of protest over its involvement in the case.

The AUT said this week that Dr Harris and Professor Mace had been accused of harassment, which they both deny, after raising a debate over the quality, structure and content of a media studies course.

While the debate continued over eight years, the media studies degree was visited by funding council assessors who recommended that the college strengthen some aspects of the course.

But in June last year the course was approved by an internal validation panel without addressing the funding council's recommended changes.

Dr Harris said he did not know why the college had changed its mind over the case and decided to reinstate him.

"It was clear to them that we were going to fight all the way, and we have always been totally convinced we were right," he said.

He is now waiting to see if he will be reinstated to his former position in media studies, or simply shifted back to where he had been moved immediately before dismissal, in recreation studies.

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