Friday, 12 August 2011

An Employment Tribunal (Part II)

The Author and the highly persistent Suffolkian Mr Longley

Yes readers. It's the time of year once again and it would appear that Part II of our Employment Tribunal (conveniently entitled Dr Gary Duke -v- University of Salford) is upon us. Next week's proceedings follow on from the previous two day hearing in March of this year.

A quick recap

For readers who are new to this case and for those who wish to be updated, you may recall that a certain chap was dismissed by his employer the University of Salford in August 2009 for 'bullying, harassment and victimisation' two members of staff, and for 'bringing the University into disrepute'. The cause of this, according to the disciplinary panel, was through the authorship and distribution of a series of satirical publications called the Vice Consul's Newsletters.

The evidence so far - no complaint

In March, the Tribunal heard how despite the University having a Code of Conduct on Bullying and Harassment that states that a formal complaint must be made of bullying and harassment for the employer to instigate an investigation, that no complaint of bullying had been made against The Author of bullying or harassment by either two staff members. This was confirmed by the witness evidence given under oath by the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel Mr Hopwood and the Finance Director Mr Attwell who sat as Chair of the Appeal Panel. 

The evidence so far - no written statements

When pushed, Mr Attwell also admitted to the Tribunal that no written witness statements from the two alleged to have been bullied and harassed had been sought or provided to this author. Similarly, both members of staff had refused to give witness testimony and attend the disciplinary hearing in August 2009.

The evidence so far - no damage to University

Under cross examination by the persistent Mr Longley, Mr Attwell could not demonstrate any specific evidence of damage caused to the University by the authorship and distribution of the Vice Consul's Newsletters, despite his upholding this allegation in the subsequent Appeal against The Author's dismissal.

The evidence so far - the prejudicing of proceedings?

The Tribunal further heard how senior managers had introduced in internal releases to staff and students and external releases to the press the issue of a staff member's ethnicity. This went much further when the Registrar (now Deputy Vice Chancellor) Dr Adrian Graves suggested in an email to these managers that they 'might want to slip in the fact that the allegations include the harassment of a female student of Chinese ethnic origin'.(1) Mr Attwell stated that he (Attwell) "cannot not be responsible for the comment of Adrian Graves". (2) Questions were raised with regard to how such actions were prejudicial to the disciplinary procedures and an attempt to poison the well of public opinion. This was refuted by Mr Attwell.* 

You foul b'stard

The evidence so far - a pre-determined outcome to the hearing?

The Tribunal also heard how an external PR consultant employed at the time by the University - Mr Ed Rowan - had sent an email to the Vice Chancellor Martin Hall, Dr Graves and head of HR Keith Watkinson on the 31st July 2009, providing a timeline for the Disciplinary Hearing, stating the exact day when the decision would be announced to this author. 

Mr Rowan also provided for Mr Watkinson's consideration a single press release with the outcome of the Disciplinary Panel - dismissal. Nothing unusual here one might think except this was four days before The Author's disciplinary hearing! No second draft press release was produced by Mr Rowan. No evidence has been presented or submitted to the Tribunal, or provided under document disclosure or two Subject Access Request to suggest Mr Watkinson considered asking for a second press release or that one was prepared in the event that the disciplinary hearing decided in this author's favour.

This three day hearing promises to open many more doors on the disciplinary processes at the University of Salford. You are of course cordially invited.

Employment Tribunal


10:00AM on the 15th, 16th, and 17th August in the year of our Lord 2011


14-22 The PARSONAGE, 


M3 2JA

Notes and References

* The Vagrants have consistently put forward the opinion that this action from the Deputy Vice Chancellor was prejudicial and was also clear encouragement by Dr Graves for his staff to breach the Data Protection Act 1998 in releasing Sensitive Personal Information of a staff member.
(1) Email from A Graves to Keith Watkinson, Professor Brian Longhurst, Dr Paul Rowlett, dated 21st May 2009, timed 17:47, Subject: Petition from Languages Students
(1) From The Author's note of the second day of the Tribunal Hearing, 2nd March 2011

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  1. Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction ...

  2. You can take your employer to an employment tribunal if you think they've treated you unfairly, or broken the law....