Suspended Swansea University academic Bjorn Rodde resigns

By Brian Meechan
BBC Wales business correspondent

Image source,
Image caption, Bjorn Rodde was appointed to the wellness village project team in 2016

One of the academics suspended from Swansea University has resigned and is taking legal action for constructive dismissal.

Senior lecturer Bjorn Rodde has written to governors saying he will also claim damages against the institution and individuals involved in the suspension.

The university said it had acted at all times in line with its procedures.

Constructive dismissal is when an employee is forced to leave their job due to the conduct of their employer.

Mr Rodde claims the university "failed to adhere to its own policies and procedures" which has caused "irreparable loss of my personal reputation".

He was suspended in November along with the head of the management school, Prof Marc Clement, and another academic.

BBC Wales understands the university is investigating them for gross misconduct.

Vice-chancellor Prof Richard Davies was suspended at same time and is being investigated for gross negligence as a result of his oversight of those involved.

Another member of staff, Paul Roberts, was subsequently also suspended while the university investigated him for gross misconduct.

All five deny any wrongdoing and Prof Davies, Prof Clement and Mr Roberts have launched grievance procedures against the university.

BBC Wales understands concerns were raised over some of those involved in making financial gain from the proposed £225m Llanelli wellness village.

That is a flagship project in the Swansea Bay City Deal, a £1.3bn scheme funded by the UK and Welsh governments, councils and the private sector.

Prof Clement was instrumental in writing the city deal including the proposed wellness village.

Image source, leighcol/Getty Images

Swansea University is investigating whether Prof Clement and Mr Rodde were set to personally profit from the wellness village by being given shares in the company that was developing it.

Prof Clement had business links with the directors of the company developing the project, Sterling Health Security Holdings.

It is believed that Swansea University's investigation centres on whether these links were declared and whether they were appropriate.

In his letter, Mr Rodde says the information was declared but there was no personal gain.

However, he also says that even if there had been future financial gain this would have been permitted under the university's rules, which allow academics to financially benefit along with the institution from any intellectual property created.

A university spokeswoman said: "Swansea University can make no comment on the resignation of an individual, particularly if it is connected with our internal investigation.

"However, the university has at all times acted in line with its procedures and ordinances in the handling of this ongoing issue. Our processes are being carried out by an independent investigating manager. We have at no time leaked documents to the media or made sensitive material public."

Back in 2016, Mr Rodde was announced as joining the wellness village project team.

A news release said he had worked for the previous three years as a senior lecturer for Swansea University in its medical school and school of management, and 18 months as a senior project manager on the Arch health and wellbeing collaboration programme.