Plymouth chair of governors stands down

Former judge says focus on him is distraction from investigation into v-c

September 30, 2014

The chair of governors at the centre of a bitter internal rift at Plymouth University has stepped down as he continues to strenuously deny allegations of sexual harassment.

William Taylor announced today he was leaving his post on Plymouth’s board of governors, stating the “very public focus” on him “potentially distracts” a university sub-committee from its current investigation into the conduct of vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell.

Professor Purcell has been “placed on leave” since July, but Plymouth has declined to state the reason for her absence.

In late August, it was announced that Mr Taylor, a retired crown court judge, was to “step aside” as chairman amid claims that he sexually harassed female staff and student representatives.

According to BBC News online, complaints against Mr Taylor include claims he made lewd jokes and subjected women to unwanted touching in the form of holding hands for minutes at a time and kissing.

In a statement, Mr Taylor said the “allegations are either wholly untrue or are grotesque distortions of the facts”.

“Indeed, my family, friends and those who know me best do not recognise these matters and, like myself, question the motives of those who have made them,” he added.

However, he accepted that his continued presence at Plymouth was now a distraction from its core work.

“I have come to the very reluctant decision that my continued presence on the board whether or not as its chairman may not serve the best interests of the university, as I have always strived to do,” he said.

Acting chair Steve Pearce thanked Mr Taylor for his eight years at the university, saying he had “worked tirelessly”.

“He has worked hard to create partnerships and build relationships with outside organisations to advance the university’s mission and success of our students,” he said.

He added that “concerted media coverage and anonymous leaks at a time when two confidential investigations are taking place have meant that he has been unable to respond”.

The separate investigation into the vice-chancellor’s conduct will also continue and is at an “advanced stage”, according to the university.

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham