A professor is suing the University of North London for alleged breach of contract after claiming he was sacked because of disagreements over research management.
David Taplin, who is due to be represented in the High Court by Labour leader Tony Blair's wife Cherie Booth, started a year-long probationary period as director of research at UNL on April 10 1995. He embarked on a programme of changes designed to improve UNL's research ratings.
However, Professor Taplin said that on March 6 this year - days before he would have been eligible for full employment rights - he was told that he would not be offered a contract at the end of the probationary period.
Professor Taplin was told that the reason he had been refused a contract was that he had failed to meet targets set on October 25. He claims that the university had expected too much, too soon.
Professor Taplin said: "The management did not really seem to understand that in research one must have targets which are long term and that one cannot expect to have results in two or three months."
He says that the targets issue was part of a deeper disagreement with the university over what he called a "clash of culture" relating to research. He said that the university had too few PhDs to supervise its MPhil students.
A spokesman for UNL claimed that Professor Taplin was under no illusions about the targets set since, it is claimed, he had agreed both the content of the targets and the progress review dates.
The university has pledged to fight the writ in the High Court.