PR chief's parting shot cites LCC head's 'unfair' management style

'Blow to morale' as second staff member to leave within weeks airs grievances. David Matthews writes

December 15, 2011

The head of communications at a London higher education institution has stepped down, using her resignation letter to air a series of grievances.

Gillian Radcliffe, public relations chief at the London College of Communication, claims in the letter sent late last month that attempts were made to "marginalise" her and that she was subjected to "irrational criticism" by head of college Sandra Kemp.

A spokeswoman for the University of the Arts London, of which LCC is part, said that it was "saddened by the tone and content" of the letter.

Ms Radcliffe said that two hours after sending it she was escorted from LCC and told not to return.

Earlier in November the college's finance manager Steve Chaplin left after two months in the job and was also escorted from the premises.

The University and College Union claimed Ms Radcliffe's resignation was the latest in a string of departures from the college since 2008.

The University of the Arts London spokeswoman cited restructuring that had led to redundancies.

She said the institution had "internal grievance and disciplinary procedures, and is confident that these provide a robust channel for any member of staff to raise issues of concern or for effective performance management".

"It would be inappropriate to make any comment on individual current or former members of staff," she said.

She confirmed that Ms Radcliffe and Mr Chaplin have both left the institution.

In the letter, which has been seen by Times Higher Education, Ms Radcliffe accuses Professor Kemp of questioning her "integrity".

She says she had become disillusioned with the college head's management style.

"Since I recently expressed my concern to you on occasions where I felt your treatment of people was unfair, or defended myself against irrational criticism from you, it has become clear that you no longer count me as a loyal or valued member of your senior team and now view me in the same negative light as you do countless other decent and dedicated colleagues," Ms Radcliffe's letter continues.

"I feel that...I'm simply at the point where I can't get on with my job because of this."

In a statement, Gary Horne, the chairman of the University and College Union at LCC and the University of the Arts London, says there are "great staff and fantastic courses" at LCC, and that the alleged management problems are "a blow to our morale and a setback to our bid to attract more students".

The resignations are the latest setbacks to hit LCC.

In 2009, the college shut 16 of the 19 courses in its School of Creative Enterprise in a restructuring procedure that the Quality Assurance Agency ruled earlier this year had had a "detrimental impact" on students and was "not fit for purpose".

The same year, the course director of the BA in public relations, Paul Simpson, resigned alleging a lack of teaching support for public relations students.

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