Triumphant Mason urges NAO rethink

November 20, 1998

Stan Mason, sacked a year ago as principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, has urged the National Audit Office to reconsider its report on misconduct at the university after winning his case for unfair dismissal.

A Glasgow industrial tribunal unanimously found that the university had breached disciplinary procedures in firing Dr Mason. It ruled by a majority of two to one that he should be reinstated, describing him as "an extremely able, perhaps brilliant, energetic man".

A Scottish Higher Education Funding Council report, published earlier this year by the NAO, condemned Dr Mason for misconduct. Dr Mason said the tribunal findings were in sharp contrast to the SHEFC report.

"I would hope that the NAO might in some way reconsider their endorsement of that report in light of the conclusions of the tribunal. This restores my reputation straight away."

The tribunal's written judgment is expected by the end of November, and the university will have six weeks to appeal.

The tribunal condemned the way Dr Mason had been fired, claiming an inner cabal had decided that he must go, and ignored fair procedures. Dr Mason was considered guilty of nepotism, but "far more potent" reasons for sacking him were chaos following the principal's controversial restructuring plans, adverse press reports, and concern that he was paid Pounds 10,000 a month while suspended.

He was not given adequate opportunity to defend himself, to be represented at a disciplinary hearing, or appeal against dismissal, the tribunal found.

A university spokesman said Glasgow Caledonian was disappointed by the finding, but "took comfort" from the fact that the reinstatement order was a majority decision.

"The university continues to believe that the actions taken in relation to Dr Mason's dismissal were in the best interests of the university," said the spokesman.

He added that the university would carefully consider an appeal following the written judgment. It faces a back payment to Dr Mason of some Pounds 150,000.

The NAO said it did not consider there was anything to add to its report at this stage. A spokeswoman added: "We will be considering the written judgment to determine whether there is any new material evidence."

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