Swansea University: Kuwait group threatens legal action

By Brian Meechan
BBC Wales business correspondent

image source, ArloMagicman/Getty Images
image captionThe private university plans in Kuwait include a medical school and 5,000 students

Swansea University has been threatened with legal action by a group behind plans for a private university in Kuwait.

It is over claims that it leaked information about the project to a newspaper.

After the Kuwait Innovative Group (KIG) complained, the university decided not to continue with the project.

KIG told Swansea University it would take action for a full refund of a "sensitive" document's £600,000 cost.

It claims this was leaked and is also considering action for loss of potential investment of £550m and damage to reputation.

KIG - which is a consortium of academics and business people - said it had the support of the UK and Kuwaiti governments for the university, which would include a medical school.

It argued that it had signed a "memorandum of agreement" with Swansea University to deliver the project.

However, Swansea said it had "never previously been presented to the university council for approval by the trustees".

"The trustees have concluded that it is impossible or impracticable for the project to be fulfilled," it added.

The reasons for that included the previous involvement of Kent Neurosciences and Sterling Health, according to a university statement.

Both companies have business links with Prof Marc Clement, the head of Swansea University's management school, who has been suspended while being investigated by the university for alleged gross misconduct.

BBC Wales understands there is a dispute over whether the Kuwait project involves these companies.

image captionProf Clement is currently suspended by Swansea University

BBC Wales believes Prof Clement would have been involved in the management of the new university and medical school in Kuwait.

It is also thought that Prof Richard Davies, Swansea vice-chancellor, was to be involved with the university in Kuwait.

Prof Davies was suspended at the same time as Prof Clement and he is being investigated for alleged gross negligence - he also denies any wrongdoing and has raised a grievance with Swansea University.

KIG said the two were acting as representatives of Swansea University and would not personally gain from their involvement in the Kuwait project.

If it had gone ahead, Swansea would have received fees as the "academic operator" of the Kuwaiti university and would have been given free shares in it.

In the letter to the council, KIG claims that the apparent leak of the documents could only have come from Swansea University.

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