Ousted president in union defeat

February 23, 1996

Mags Whelan, the ousted student president who is threatening legal action against Oxford Brookes University student union, has sparked further upset after losing the latest leadership election.

Conservative-voting Ms Whelan says she is unhappy about the size of her opponent Gordon McPherson's winning vote and is now preparing to lodge a formal complaint. Mr McPherson secured 429 votes compared to Ms Whelan's 146. Ms Whelan says she is not alone in considering a complaint. But current union president Richard Craven said an independent returning officer had monitored the election.

The poll came just days after the university held an official hearing into the row about Ms Whelan's removal from presidential office last October following a vote of no confidence. Ms Whelan says that if the result is unsatisfactory she will take legal action against the union.

Ms Whelan has said she is likely to claim unfair dismissal and seek compensation for loss of earnings on her Pounds 8,500 a year sabbatical salary if the outcome of the university hearing fails to satisfy.

Problems began last June, when Ms Whelan was still president-elect, and the university and union were debating plans to build a nursery. The executive accused her of not supporting the nursery and having voted her out tried to get a vote of no-confidence in her through the union. Ms Whelan argued this was unconstitutional and got an injunction to prevent the vote.

On her succession to office she was soon under renewed attack and three months after assuming the post of sabbatical president she was ousted in what she describes was a "politically motivated" vote of no confidence.

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