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UCU calls on chair of governors to resign over London university sacking row

2 October 2008

Members of UCU at the University of East London (UEL) today issued a vote of no confidence in Jim McKenna, the university's chair of governors, and called on him to resign.

The union also said it had no confidence in the process taken to suspend vice-chancellor Professor Martin Everett and called for him to be reinstated. 

The union said it was concerned that the suspension of Professor Everett in the summer involved a possible breach of procedure and lacked any accountability. Today's Times Higher Education (THE) prints extracts of a letter from Professor Everett to Jim McKenna in which Everett says 'You essentially invite me to accept a payment to go quietly or otherwise you threaten the use of procedures to remove me... this action does not derive from any recognisable process'.

The decision to suspend Professor Everett was taken at an unofficial governors meetings on 11 June and the decision was relayed to some members over the phone. Following the removal of Everett on the grounds of 'lack of leadership and vision', Gillian Slater resigned from the board; she was one of only two governors with a track record in higher education.

At an official governors meeting on 8 July the decision was ratified and the only other lay governor with a record in the sector walked out and has since followed Slater's lead and resigned his position. The vice-chancellor has since lodged legal proceedings against the University and publicly stated that he is committed to UEL, and does not want to leave.

UCU branch secretary at UEL Docklands, Phil Marfleet, said: 'Staff at UEL have little confidence in the decision to sack the vice-chancellor. There has been a complete lack of open and accountable governance and we do not believe there are good grounds to justify the removal of Professor Everett and call on the governing body to rescind the suspension and restore the vice-chancellor to his post. We believe that a failure to do so will only further damage the University of East London's reputation and well being.'

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