Principal rejects 'insincere' apology

July 20, 2007

A lecturer is set to lose his job because his apology for publicly criticising the principal was judged to be insufficiently sincere.

Sam Richards was sacked after 30 years at Dartington College of Arts earlier this year over an article he posted on a campaign website opposing the college's forthcoming merger with University College Falmouth. The article suggested that characters from Alice in Wonderland might do a better job of running the college than its current principal, Andrew Brewerton.

College governors upheld the dismissal at an appeal hearing in June but advised that an apology might win the lecturer his job back.

Mr Richards wrote to Professor Brewerton saying he had intended the article to be a satire. "I now realise that the nature and content of that posting could easily be interpreted as a personal attack against you," he added.

But Professor Brewerton did not accept the apology. He said the statement failed to adequately acknowledge the offence of gross misconduct, and that Mr Richards was "regrettably disingenuous" in his assertion that the article was "merely satirical".

He said the apology "fails fully and unreservedly to withdraw the unfounded allegations contained in your website article. For these reasons I do not regard this as a sincere basis for moving forward."

He encouraged Mr Richards to write a "full and unreserved apology" after which his dismissal would be reduced to a less severe penalty. But Mr Richards has declined to make an alternative apology.

"I produced an apology that I could sincerely make," he told The Times Higher . "Anything more would have been grovelling."

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