Whistleblowers: Early exit and no appeal

May 4, 2001

Lecturers are campaigning to save the career of a Nottingham Trent University lecturer who was disciplined despite concerns raised by the university's equal opportunities chief.

After several apparent procedural breaches, Janet Enever was given her P45 last month, less than two months after taking up her post in the modern languages department.

While NTU negotiates Ms Enever's future, "friends" are fighting for her reinstatement. In a circular letter, they say: "What has happened with this dreadful situation has implications for fairness at work for all academic staff."

Just over a month after starting in January, Ms Enever was called to a disciplinary meeting by her head of department, Marianne Howarth. "This meeting is to discuss the concerns relating to your performance," she was told. She faced four key charges, including preparing "inappropriate teaching materials", poor teamwork and an alleged "intention to ignore key aspects of (her) job description."

Shortly after that, the university's head of equal opportunities, Elisabeth Joyce, intervened. She wrote to Professor Howarth: "In view of the brevity of her time at NTU and the very recent nature of the clarification of her post, I am writing to you in the spirit of the university's policy for the elimination of bullying and harassment to ask you to withdraw your requirement for this disciplinary meeting."

But the disciplinary meeting went ahead, Ms Enever was found guilty, and she was told she would be dismissed.

Lecturers' union Natfhe has raised concerns about the case, but would not comment as discussions continued.

Ms Enever, who has not spoken to The THES , has written to the vice-chancellor complaining that there were no informal attempts to resolve issues despite the procedural requirement that formal action begin only "after informal approaches have not succeeded".

She accepted that remarks she may have made about the need for "greater academic rigour" on a language programme in Japan may have upset a colleague, but said it was important to express "openly and honestly" her professional views on quality assurance.

She denied all the other allegations. Even if they were true, she said, they did not amount to gross misconduct or warrant dismissal.

It is understood that Ms Enever was dismissed before an appeal was heard, which would be a breach of procedures. An NTU spokeswoman this week said the university could not comment about a personnel matter.

North East Wales settles with whistleblowers

Two whistleblowers' allegations of unfair dismissal against the North East Wales Institute have been settled out of court.

The NEWI confirmed this week that it had settled claims by lecturers Radwan Abu-el Failat and David Perrin, who were dismissed after making allegations of bullying against a manager. The tribunal hearing was set to be the culmination of more than a year of disputes over bullying and mismanagement at the Wrexham-based institute.

Last year, The THES reported the confidential results of an inquiry by the Welsh funding council into "wide-ranging allegations". The recommendations showed that procedures were breached in at least one disciplinary case, that there was inadequate protection for whistleblowers, that at least one appointment was made outside recruitment procedures, that there were confused lines of control over finances and that there was a lack of awareness over occupational health issues.

Research by the NEWI's personnel officer, Colin Grethe, had found that 57 per cent of staff at the institute reported work-related stress, with most blaming bullying or management expectations.

A spokesman for the NEWI said that the terms of the settlements were confidential. Even the regional official for lecturers' union Natfhe declined to comment.

Want to blow the whistle?
Contact Phil Baty on 020 7782 3298
or email him phil.baty@thes.co.uk

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