Whistleblowers: UCE serves court order on defiant ex-lecturer

July 19, 2002

The University of Central England has begun court proceedings to recover almost £10,000 it claims was wrongly paid to former lecturer Elizabeth Hall, after a THES investigation found that she had lied to overturn her dismissal from UCE in 1996.

The THES reported in January that Ms Hall, who runs a business selling essays to students, was dismissed from UCE after complaints from her colleagues about a "failure of conduct".

She successfully appealed against the dismissal, claiming that her mother had suffered a stroke and required frequent care. She has since admitted that she forged a doctor's note to save her UCE job.

UCE this week confirmed that its lawyers, Shakespeare's, had served a court order on Ms Hall, seeking the return of £9,700 that was paid to her after her dismissal was overturned and she returned to work for several months.

A UCE spokesman said: "All the papers have been correctly and properly served, and we have a cast-iron claim. The university will use all possible legal means to achieve recovery of this money and will prosecute the case with determination."

Ms Hall said The THES 's "facts are incorrect". She claims that long periods of absence preceding her dismissal from the university were a result of stress-related illness brought on by difficulties at UCE.

"If any claim is made against me at any stage by UCE, there will be a vigorous and robust response of a counter claim against UCE for its behaviour during the period running up to, during and immediately following my serious mental health problems," she said.

York St John College settles discrimination row

York St John College has settled a three-year discrimination row with disabled lecturer Claire Hobbs after twice attempting to deny that she was disabled.

The THES reported in June 2000 that the University of Leeds college had failed to quash Dr Hobbs's claims at an employment tribunal. When faced with allegations that it had discriminated against her on the grounds of her disability, it argued unsuccessfully that she was not disabled under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The college had been claiming financial support for Dr Hobbs, who has muscular problems, under the government's access to work scheme for disabled people.

An appeal by the college was thrown out last year. Last month, just before the substance of the case was about to be heard for the first time in full, the college reached an out-of-court settlement with Dr Hobbs.

Dr Hobbs, who will not return to the college, said: "Settlement was not without serious reservation. The toll of fighting for three years to establish what had already been unequivocally accepted (namely that I am disabled) is nigh-on intolerable."

Evans fails in effort to overhaul Cambridge

The High Court has thrown out a claim for a judicial review of Cambridge University's procedures for promoting academic staff, ruling that aggrieved staff have no recourse to public law on private employment and contractual matters.

Dismissing the claim by history lecturer Gill Evans last week, Justice Scott Baker said that although Oxford and Cambridge had a unique status in public law, academics' grievances about private employment matters were not a matter for the High Court.

Dr Evans was seeking judicial review of the university's decision not to promote her to a personal chair. The THES reported last year that Dr Evans had been recommended for a professorship, which was blocked by a central committee.

Dr Evans claims that her high-profile criticisms of the university's governance and grievances with several key individuals at the university have ruled out a fair hearing of her case for promotion. She said the promotion process is outdated and that the university breached its own rules.

Although the judge praised her "research and erudition", Dr Evans's High Court action fell without any consideration of her claims.

Cambridge registrary Tim Mead said: "We are pleased with the outcome. However, we are sorry that Dr Evans felt that she needed to take this route and that she has wasted so much time, effort and money in the process."

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