Plymouth University row: MP talks to government

MP Oliver Colvile
Image caption MP Oliver Colvile said he would talk to the government about the issues at the university

A bitter feud that rocked the Plymouth University boardroom will be raised with the government, an MP has said.

MP Oliver Colvile said the row - which has seen the chairman of governors William Taylor temporarily stand aside and the vice chancellor Wendy Purcell suspended as they both face separate investigations - could damage the city.

Mr Colvile said he would discuss the impact with a government minister.

The university said those involved were trying to resolve the situation.

Mr Taylor faces allegations of sexual harassment, which he "categorically" denies, while vice chancellor Wendy Purcell has been suspended ahead of an investigation into her conduct.

'Implications for Plymouth'

Mr Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, said he would be talking to Matthew Hancock, the Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, about "what action he is proposing to take and if there's anything the government can try and do".

Image caption Plymouth University chairman of governors William Taylor faces allegations of sexual harassment

"I think it has got potential implications for it [Plymouth] which is why we need to clear this up as quickly as we can," he said.

"The university is a key player in the city but we need to be making sure we send out the right message that Plymouth is the place people should be investing in."

'Reassured Mr Colvile'

Earlier this month, retired judge Mr Taylor decided to temporarily "stand aside" while he is investigated about claims of sexual harassment.

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

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

Prof David Coslett, the deputy vice chancellor, said: "I have reassured Mr Colvile, as well as the wider business community, that the relevant parties are trying to resolve the current situation as quickly as possible.

"The strong relationships the university has with the city and business sector, as well as with key influencers nationally and internationally, will ensure that we continue to use our expertise for the good of the city and the region.

"We continue to play our part in attracting millions of pounds in inward investment into the region and continue to support the business community."

Image copyright Plymouth University
Image caption Wendy Purcell has been vice-chancellor of the university since 2007

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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