Updated 11 July: UEL vice-chancellor on ‘indefinite leave’

Meeting on 8 July decides Martin Everett’s fate. Melanie Newman reports

July 10, 2008

The vice-chancellor of the University of East London has gone on “indefinite leave”, Times Higher Education has learnt.

The university’s chair of governors announced that Martin Everett was on indefinite leave in a single-sentence statement to the governors.

The statement was made after a meeting late on 8 July from which some staff representatives on the governing body were excluded. No questions were allowed after the announcement, it is understood.

Professor Everett, a mathematician, has been in post since April 2007. He was previously pro vice-chancellor at the University of Westminster, where he was also director of the university’s research strategy. He has advised organisations including Unilever, QinetiQ, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and Unesco.

The university said: “We can confirm that Martin will be on indefinite leave from this week. This was announced yesterday evening at the Board of Governors’ meeting, at which staff and student governors were present. Professor Susan Price is acting vice-chancellor and the business of our university is proceeding as normal. A formal communication is being made to staff and unions today.”

UPDATE 9 July:

On 9 July, still no statement had been released to staff.

On 10 July, Chris Knight and Phil Marfleet, chairman and secretary of the University and College Union at UEL’s Docklands campus, sent a memo to members noting that Professor Everett’s departure on indefinite leave was “a very serious development”.

They said: “UCU officers have since attempted to discover what circumstances prompted the decision: acting v-c Susan Price says that management ‘has no authority to elaborate on the Governors’ statement’. UCU officers believe that staff must be informed fully about the situation. We have a right to know why the senior executive is absent from his post – and what the implications may be for the institution and for ongoing discussions with the vice-chancellor about staff contracts and conditions. It is not acceptable for UEL staff to learn of events from the media and through rumour.”

UPDATE 11 July:

Times Higher Education understands that negotiations are currently taking place involving legal advisers for both parties.

An e-mail sent on 11 July by Brian Davies, an IT network operations manager at the university, to Tony Wright, director of IT services, and copied to all network administrators, said: “I’ve disabled Martin Everett’s network account and added his account to the Graveyard group.”

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