London Met 'wasted' £250K of public funds

February 8, 2007

Academic union leaders have urged funding chiefs to intervene after claims that London Metropolitan University has "wasted" £250,000 of public money on fighting and losing an employment appeal tribunal case.

The university has had to pay £160,000 in compensation for the unfair dismissal of 23 lecturers after attempting to impose new contracts on them after the merger between London Guildhall University and the University of North London to form London Met in 2002.

In settlements concluded last week, the university was also obliged to pay £9,648 in interest clocked up since the original judgment of a tribunal about a year ago, as well as having to pay legal costs. Since then, London Met has also lost an appeal tribunal and was refused leave to go to the Court of Appeal.

Many of the 23 successful claimants, 18 of whom still work at London Met, collected their cheques last Friday.

Leaders of the University and College Union said the legal fees and the costs of fighting and losing the tribunal must have added up to about a quarter of a million pounds in total. They added that the university also faced a backlog of staff grievances caused by the refusal of its vice-chancellor, Brian Roper, to talk to the union.

Roger Kline, UCU's head of equality and employment rights, said: "This money would be better spent on enhancing the student experience. We need dialogue and mature leadership to resolve the legacy of this dispute, not a human resources management pout."

London Met declined to comment.

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