THE DEAN at the centre of allegations of nepotism and bullying at Anglia Polytechnic University is facing High Court action over a failed deal to provide accredited courses in Malta.
It emerged this week that business school dean Hugh Jenkins has been named in a High Court writ in which a former business partner in Malta seeks damages claiming breach of contract, breach of confidence and defamation.
Another named defendant is university secretary Steve Bennett, who has been responsible for investigating the nepotism and bullying claims against Professor Jenkins, as well as the "chancellor (Lord Prior) and scholars of Anglia Polytechnic University".
an internal audit revealed that APU's abortive deal with a husband-and-wife team operating from a tertiary college in Malta cost the university at least Pounds 80,000, with Pounds 1,393 spent on a visit to Malta by Lord Prior.
The writ was served by city solicitors Pitts-Tucker in September 1996, on behalf of the former educational facilitator for the APU in Malta, Anglia International University Training Organisation (AIUTO).
AIUTO director Ted Woolley and his wife Josianne, a course administrator, claim the university attempted to "usurp" their company, and replace it as APU's exclusive "facilitator" in Malta, because the deal was not financially "advantageous" for APU.
This was in breach of the contract, they say. Mr Woolley also claims that a representative of the university passed herself off as an authorised representative of AIUTO in an attempt to investigate alternative, more lucrative partnerships, in breach of the contract and in breach of Maltese law.
This week Pitts-Tucker, representing AIUTO, would not comment because the case was ongoing. It is understood that no date has been set for the trial.
Professor Jenkins, according to the writ, was involved in the project from the outset in 1993. In March 1995, as head of the division of management development, Professor Jenkins was appointed project director of the courses offered to Maltese students.
In November 1995 Professor Jenkins wrote to the AIUTO, saying "the programmes as presently run are not financially viable".
Earlier that year an internal audit by Phil Griffiths, deputy finance director at APU, blamed the poor outcome on low enrolment, with only two cohorts of 21 and 18 students. "The second cohort of students started six months later than planned," he said.
Professor Jenkins, the writ alleges, threatened to withhold resources for the courses and to withdraw AIUTO's exclusive rights, in breach of the contract.
In February 1996 APU gave notice of the termination of the contract on May 31 1996, on the grounds that AIUTO had defaulted on payments and breached the contract itself, claims which AIUTO refute.
Roy Newson, spokesman for the APU, said this week: "This matter is in the hands of our solicitors and they have advised us that we cannot say anything until they are in a position to move forward."
City lawyers Herbert Smith are acting for the university.
Professor Jenkins is at the centre of allegations of nepotism over the appointment and promotion of his son Jonathan. The university denies any impropriety.