Police raids tied to Swansea University ‘wellness village’ probe

New twist in case which triggered departure of vice-chancellor and management dean

August 1, 2019
Police officer
Source: iStock

Police have confirmed that their investigation into alleged bribery at Swansea University focuses on the development of a £200 million “wellness village”.

South Wales Police said that officers had seized documents and electronic equipment during raids on eight addresses on 31 July. The properties were in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Kent.

On 1 August the force confirmed that its investigation, which was launched following a complaint made by the university, “centres around a tendering process carried out in respect of the Llanelli Wellbeing and Life Sciences Village”.

Concerns over the university’s involvement in the same project, part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, were thought to have been behind the dismissal with immediate effect on 26 July of Richard Davies, Swansea’s vice-chancellor, and Marc Clement, dean of its management school.

The pair, who had been suspended in November, deny wrongdoing and have said they will appeal against the finding of gross misconduct. Disciplinary proceedings against a third employee are ongoing.

South Wales Police said on 1 August that Tarian, the regional organised crime unit, was “continuing to investigate alleged bribery offences following a complaint by Swansea University”.

“The investigation centres around a tendering process carried out in respect of the Llanelli Wellbeing and Life Sciences Village,” a statement said.

“Tarian executed a series of warrants yesterday morning, with the assistance of colleagues from South Wales, Dyfed Powys and Kent police forces.

“Documents and electronic equipment have been seized, which will now be subject to extensive examination.

“No arrests have been made, and the complex investigation remains ongoing.”

A university spokeswoman said that Swansea had been “cooperating with the authorities since November 2018”.

“The university made a formal criminal complaint regarding the conduct of a number of individuals, both inside and outside the university, arising from evidence discovered during an internal investigation and a subsequent privileged investigation conducted by the university’s external legal advisers,” a statement said.

“In accordance with the university’s ordinances, four employees were suspended and the university appointed an external and independent barrister to conduct an independent investigation into the alleged conduct. Professor Richard Davies and Professor Marc Clement have since been dismissed with immediate effect, by a disciplinary panel, with a decision pending on a third employee. A fourth employee previously resigned. 

“As the university has not completed its disciplinary process, it would not be appropriate for the university to comment further.  We continue to cooperate with the authorities in relation to this matter.”

Professor Davies previously accused the university registrar of trying to “seize the position of vice-chancellor” and said that the university council has been “negligent in permitting this manifestly unfair concentration of power in the hands of one person”.

Prior to his suspension, Professor Davies had been scheduled to retire at the end of the current academic year. Swansea had already announced that Paul Boyle, the former University of Leicester vice-chancellor, would succeed him.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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