No case to answer as misconduct claim halted

January 8, 2009

Misconduct allegations against a senior academic whose fitness to practise was called into question after a marking row at De Montfort University have been thrown out.

The disciplinary procedures involving Larry Goodyer, head of De Montfort's School of Pharmacy, followed revelations in Times Higher Education that marks on an MPharm degree at the university had been boosted in response to an unusually high failure rate in 2004.

The move provoked anger from four external examiners, who described it as "deplorable". One member of staff complained that the upgrade was "academically indefensible". Another said it "lacked academic integrity, was without logic and was achieved in an intimidating atmosphere".

However, the case against Professor Goodyer, which was brought by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, hinged on whether or not he, as an individual, should have informed the society of the upgrade earlier than he did.

Last month, the society's disciplinary committee threw out the case at the request of Professor Goodyer's lawyer, saying there was no case to answer.

It heard that he had first notified the society's head of accreditation of the marking moderation, which happened in June 2004, in early 2005 after being contacted by Times Higher Education and alerted that a news item about the marking was going to appear.

It had been alleged that his failure to inform the society for nine months amounted to misconduct because it is a condition of degree accreditation that the school must tell the society of any relevant changes to the course or assessment.

The disciplinary committee asked if it was right "to impose" upon him "personal responsibility to report what had occurred openly within a university context".

However, in this instance, it said, the condition of degree accreditation was "wholly irrelevant" to the case.

Concluding that the university's internal procedures had been right and proper after the row blew up, it said that Professor Goodyer, by informing the society of the matter shortly before it was made public by Times Higher Education, had "discharged such disclosure obligation as he owed to the society, and that his integrity remains unsullied".

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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