Whistleblowers: Problem with petition

March 7, 2003

A former medical student has accused the Privy Council of trying to ignore his complaints against Sheffield University, where he spent ten years attempting to qualify as a doctor.

Sushant Varma listed his complaints against Sheffield in a petition to the Privy Council, which acts as the university's visitor. But although the Privy Council's guidelines say that "there is no set format for a petition to the visitor", Dr Varma's petition was rejected on the basis that "it cannot be accepted in its present form".

"I was taken aback by the hostile nature of the letter," said Dr Varma, who recently qualified as a doctor outside Sheffield. A revised petition sent in July has not been acknowledged.

Privy Council clerk Alex Galloway told The THES that he had not received the revised petition and would request a copy. He said that the first version included material outside the visitor's jurisdiction, contrary to the guidance available, and that any "frankness" detected in the tone of his letter was directed at Dr Varma's solicitor, whom he criticised for the way he represented Dr Varma.

"There is no question of barring access to the visitor," he added.

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