Two sides of the argument

May 8, 1998

THES reporters round up some of the latest industrial tribunal cases in universities and colleges

Two lecturers accused of "gross misconduct" claim they did not get a "fair trial" from college managers, writes Tony Tysome.

David Harris, former social sciences reader at the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, was sacked in April after a media studies head complained of "harassment and bullying".

He said complaints against him and senior media studies lecturer Nigel Mace, who faced a disciplinary hearing for "gross misconduct" yesterday, began after they raised concerns about quality and objected to the reorganisation of a media studies course.

Dr Harris, whose appeal for reinstatement is being backed by the Association of University Teachers, also claims the college failed to follow its own disciplinary procedures. He said problems started eight years ago when the media studies degree course, which is validated by Exeter University, was made more vocational. Concerns about standards were raised then and in February last year when a teaching quality assessment gave a low grade for curriculum design.

David Triesman, AUT general secretary, said: "It strikes me as very strange when harassment and bullying is claimed to be done by junior members of staff. I think what we have here are two people who have raised issues quite properly, and they have been persecuted for it."

Dr Harris claimed the principal John Rea had both presented and heard the case. A college spokesman said: "Following a full and proper hearing under the college disciplinary procedure, a member of staff has been dismissed for gross misconduct. An appeal against that decision is scheduled to be heard next week." He declined to comment on Mr Mace's disciplinary hearing.

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