An Australian university has promised an external inquiry after accusations of academic fraud and misuse of thousands of dollars of government grants were levelled against a leading professor on television.
Bruce Hall, a transplant specialist at the University of New South Wales's Immunology Research Centre, was accused by three of his staff of fabricating results, crediting his wife, Suzanne Hodgkinson, as co-inventor of a patent and co-author of scientific papers in which she was not involved, and of diverting thousands of dollars of research funds to support his wife's research.
The three research assistants made the claims on the ABC Science Show last week. They first protested about Professor Hall's actions last September but were unhappy at the university's response.
UNSW vice-chancellor John Niland confirmed that an external independent investigation would now be established to address any issues it considered unresolved from a previous internal inquiry.
Professor Niland said there was nothing to support the complaint that Professor Hall mismanaged funds or that he had wilfully perpetrated scientific fraud or deliberately engaged in scientific misconduct. But there were concerns over the management of grants and the centre's unsatisfactory working environment.
Professor Niland said Dr Hodgkinson, a UNSW senior lecturer, was rightfully included on the patent and as co-author of the papers as there was clear evidence to show her involvement.
Professor Hall issued a statement saying the vice-chancellor and the inquiry had rejected all five categories of allegations. He was "absolutely confident" the new inquiry would accept there had been no scientific fraud.
Dr Hodgkinson said she had been damned by imputation. Her husband had distributed financial support to eight people - including her. "There's an imputation that I had no money at all and I was stealing it. I managed on nearly nothing but I did keep managing," she said.