Suspended animation

September 25, 1998

Whistleblower John Watts remains suspended on full pay seven months after he raised internally allegations of nepotism and bullying against his boss, Anglia Polytechnic University business school dean Hugh Jenkins. University investigations into Mr Watts's complaints exonerated Professor Jenkins - although the investigating committee admitted that it had disregarded "new matters" raised during the investigation.

Although the Higher Education Funding Council for England ruled recently that Mr Watts made his allegations "in good faith", the university had already completed an investigation into Mr Watts's whistleblowing and has ruled that his action may amount to "gross misconduct".

In response to Mr Watts's allegations against them, Professor Jenkins and his lecturer son Jonathan made about 24 wide-ranging allegations against Mr Watts. Pro vice-chancellor Robin Smith went through all the allegations and his overall finding was that there was "a case" for a disciplinary hearing in relation to just five points.

These five points, which now form the basis of his very expensive suspension, amount exclusively to Mr Watts's attempts to raise issues of nepotism, bullying and mismangement with the university. In expressing his concerns about nepotism, Mr Watts "denigrated" Mr Jenkins. In persisting with his complaints, the Jenkinses have been harassed. The investigation also found that there is "evidence to suggest" that Mr Watts had a hand in THES coverage of the business school row. These crimes amount to "gross misconduct". A date has not yet been set for his hearing.

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