Sacked principal cites staff support

July 24, 1998

THE former principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, who was fired for gross misconduct, wants to return to the job.

Stan Mason told an industrial tribunal last week: "Ninety-eight per cent of academic staff would be delighted to see me back. They would feel they were gaining academic leadership again."

His case, alleging unfair dismissal, was initially scheduled for six days. It has so far taken four months and has just been adjourned until the end of October.

The hearing has so far focused on an internal inquiry, which found that Dr Mason was improperly involved in the university's hiring of his daughter-in-law and the children of friends.

Dr Mason has denied any wrong-doing. His solicitor, Alistair Cockburn of Maxwell MacLaurin, has condemned the meeting at which Dr Mason was presented with the findings and fired when he did not resign. Dr Mason said the outcome of the meeting had already been decided, and the tribunal was his "first and only opportunity" to state his case.

But university witnesses have said the tribunal accepted that the report was factually accurate. The university was in such turmoil it would have been impossible for Dr Mason to return. And Ian Truscott QC, counsel for the university, has said that if Dr Mason is found to have been unfairly dismissed, any compensation should be reduced to nil because of "subsequently discovered misconduct".

A report by John Sizer, chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, published earlier this year by the National Audit Office, said Dr Mason had abused his authority and misused public funds.

Mr Truscott wishes to use some of the SHEFC findings when the tribunal resumes, albeit without evidence from Professor Sizer, who was initially cited as a witness.

The tribunal excluded the press from arguments by Professor Sizer's counsel, James Peoples QC, as to why he should not appear.

But a SHEFC spokeswoman later said: "The report came to a number of conclusions based on evidence largely contained within the university's own records. It is for the tribunal to decide whether this evidence is now pertinent.

"Professor Sizer was not party to any of the facts but simply reported them, was not an expert witness and was not able to add anything to his existing findings."

Ian Johnston, temporary chief executive of the University for Industry, is due to take up the principalship of Glasgow Caledonian in September.

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