Cambridge University has sent a bill for £124,000 to campaigning history lecturer Gill Evans, after she failed to persuade the High Court to undertake a judicial review of the ancient university's procedures for promoting staff.
Dr Evans was due to argue in the High Court in July that the university had breached its own promotion procedures when a central committee rejected her bid for a professorship last year. Her faculty peers had earlier judged that her case for a promotion was outstanding, finding "clear evidence" of intellectual leadership and original research.
She was to argue that her high-profile criticisms of the university's governance had repeatedly ruled out a fair hearing of her case for promotion.
But the High Court ruled in July that it had no jurisdiction over the issue, as it was a private employment matter and not for the public law courts, awarding costs to the university.
Dr Evans, who earns £33,000 a year at Cambridge, said this week that the university's bill for legal costs was out of proportion and was deliberately punitive. She said the university chose to engage London lawyers at up to £450 an hour, instead of £130 an hour charged by Cambridge lawyers. She said she could not afford to appeal against the bill and was facing the bailiffs.
Dr Evans said: "This is a David and Goliath case which demonstrates that it is virtually impossible for any individual to challenge institutions that behave as if their pockets are bottomless, even when they are in financial difficulty."
The university maintains that it was Dr Evans who chose to take her concerns to the High Court, and the "waste of time, effort and money" was regrettable.