Plymouth University boss steps aside to fight sex harassment claims

Judge William Taylor Plymouth University chairman of governors William Taylor faces allegations of sexual harassment

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Plymouth University's chairman of governors will "stand aside" while he is investigated about claims of sexual harassment.

Retired judge William Taylor is facing allegations by a number of women.

The accusations were submitted by vice chancellor Wendy Purcell, who is currently suspended as she faces an investigation into her conduct.

Steve Pearce, deputy chairman of governors, said he will take over Mr Taylor's responsibilities.

Mr Pearce, a former Assistant Chief Constable with Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "I can confirm that judge William Taylor has decided to stand aside from his responsibilities as chairman pending the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations made against him, allegations which he strongly denies.

"His duties and responsibilities will now fall to me as deputy chair.

"The board has accepted Judge Taylor's decision, recognising that he has put the interests of the university first in taking this step."

Mr Pearce added that the university was committed to reaching a resolution to the current investigation into the conduct of Prof Purcell "as soon as possible".

A senior barrister has been appointed by the university to support their investigation into allegations against Mr Taylor.

Sources have said complaints include discriminatory and inappropriate behaviour.

On Wednesday Mr Taylor "categorically" denied the allegations, describing them as "defamatory" and "deeply hurtful".

Vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell Wendy Purcell has been vice-chancellor of the university since 2007

Prof Purcell was suspended from her £288,000-a-year post in June. The university is yet to reveal the reason for her suspension.

The bitter feud between the university's two most powerful executives has been raised with the regulator, the Higher Education Funding Council which has since visited the university.

A report of the visit concluded there was not enough evidence to justify an investigation into the university's governing body, but did recommend an external review of governance.

The university has agreed to a review in the next academic year.

Timeline of events
  • 29 May - The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) was notified by the university of an internal investigation into the conduct of the vice-chancellor
  • In early June, the council was contacted by a source at the university about a "governance crisis" and requested HEFCE's intervention
  • Also in early June, the council received allegations about the conduct of the chairman
  • 18 June - HEFCE's head of assurance visited the university to review documentation
  • 14 August - Pro-chancellor Barbara Bond MBE leaves
  • 15 August - Barbara Bond MBE claims she was "forced out" as a result of the dispute

Sources: HEFCE report and BBC News


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    Exeter Prison

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    Ann Stokes‎ posted this lovely photo on the BBC Radio Cornwall Facebook page, saying "Another beautiful early morning over Mounts Bay".

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    No entry sign in Totnes

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    Shotgun. Pic: Thinkstock

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    Rik Mayall

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    Artist impression of Bloodhound car

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    BBC Radio Devon: Network Rail reassures residents in Dawlish that large cracks being found in the sea wall are being dealt with.

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    The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Tony Hogg is my studio guest today - if you want him to answer your questions, call 01872 222222 from 12 noon.


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    all black

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    BBC Radio Devon: Devon pub fire 'started in an airing cupboard' say investigators.

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    10:14: High waters Holly Green BBC Weather

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    BBC Radio Cornwall: Cornwall's tourism leaders say changes must be made to the rules stopping parents taking their children on holiday during term time.

    BBC Radio Devon: Engineers from Network Rail have told worried locals in Dawlish big cracks in the sea wall will be repaired this month.

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    08:56: News on the hour

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    BBC Radio Cornwall: Cornish tourism leaders blame 'Gove Effect' for school holiday visitor surge.

    BBC Radio Devon: Concerns over Dawlish sea wall cracks.

    08:44: Newquay drone 'concern' Neil Gallacher Correspondent, BBC South West

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    08:34: 'Gove effect' blamed for visitor slump BBC Radio Cornwall

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    08:22: Dawlish cracks BBC Radio Devon

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    08:12: A dry day ahead Kevin Thomas BBC Weather Forecaster

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    Winds will be variable at first and then becoming light or moderate from the south or southwest, but fresher along the north coast and further west. Max Temp: 12C (54F).

    08:07: Traffic problems BBC Travel South West
    • There's an accident on the A386 Tavistock Road in Roborough it's partially blocked and there's slow traffic at George Junction, because of an accident involving two cars. Police are directing traffic.
    • Honey Lane in Woodbury Salterton is partially blocked around the Village Road after an accident.
    • A car is on its roof on the B3252 in Horningtops, the road is partially blocked near the A38 junction.
    08:00: Good morning Matt Pengelly Local Live

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, weather, sport and travel updates for Friday.

    If you've got a story for us or a comment on this service, please do get in touch.



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