Whistleblowers: THES forces inquiry into scholar's ejection

December 7, 2001

The High Court has given the go-ahead to an inquiry into the forced ejection of an international scholar at Oxford University, which was set up by the university in response to an investigation by The THES .

Mr Justice Scott Baker has dismissed an attempt to block the inquiry by law professor Denis Galligan, who sparked a human rights row at the university last year when he enforced an exclusion order against a junior research colleague at his Centre for Socio Legal Studies. The university acknowledged that the scholar, who has asked not to be named, was left "distressed and humiliated" when he was escorted from his own office by security guards.

Investigations by The THES this summer discovered that Professor Galligan had faced earlier formal criticism for a "forceful and abrasive" management style, and had been subject to disciplinary action for aggressive behaviour when the university rubber-stamped his exclusion order without any scrutiny of the decision.

Following The THES reports, Oxford's vice-chancellor, Colin Lucas, set up an inquiry led by retired High Court judge Sir Oliver Popplewell, but Professor Galligan applied for a judicial review of the decision. He claimed in the High Court that the inquiry was set up for an "improper purpose, namely to satisfy media criticism" in The THES , and that it would be unfair, as he had already been subjected to an internal investigation into the affair that fully vindicated his decision.

This week, a University of Oxford spokesperson said: "The ruling confirms the right of this university to set up an inquiry into unresolved internal matters as part of the vice-chancellor's powers to look after the interests of the university. It acknowledges that it, in doing so, the university is entitled to have in mind broader considerations than simply the interests of those directly involved.

"The university will invite Sir Oliver Popplewell to proceed with his inquiry."

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