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Plymouth University latest: Former judge William Taylor steps aside from board

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 21, 2014

Plymouth University latest: Former judge William Taylor stands down from board

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The chairman of governors at Plymouth University has announced that he is stepping aside from his role while allegations of sexual harrasment are investigated.

William Taylor will hand over his duties, in his role as chairman at Plymouth University, to a colleague during the inquiry.

The retired judge is to be investigated by an independent adjudicator following allegations made by vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell.

Professor Purcell remains on leave after being suspended by the board of governors in June.

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Judge Taylor denies the allegations, but last night announced he would stand aside pending the outcome of the inquiry.

His duties will be taken over by deputy chairman Steve Pearce.

Mr Pearce 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.

“The vice-chancellor will remain relieved of her role as chief executive and accountable officer until the board reaches a resolution to the current investigation into the vice-chancellor’s conduct, which it is committed to doing as soon as possible.”

In a previous statement released through the university, Judge Taylor said: “I am aware that at a very late stage in the review of matters involving the vice-chancellor, she submitted allegations against me to my fellow governors.

“I categorically deny these allegations which I consider to be defamatory. I have personally insisted that, together with the university, these are robustly investigated by an independent expert.

“It would clearly be inappropriate to comment further while that investigation is in train, except to say that these are deeply hurtful.”

A senior barrister has reportedly been appointed by the university to carry out the investigation into the allegations.

Professor Purcell was suspended from her post in June. The university is yet to reveal the reason for the suspension.

Last week Barbara Bond left her post as the university’s pro-chancellor, claiming she was forced out as a result of the ongoing dispute.

In an open letter the following day, Mrs Bond said she had longstanding concerns about “questionable governance practice” and criticised Mr Taylor’s “manner when dealing with female members of staff and students”.

Her term of office as pro-chancellor came to an end last month, but she said she had been asked to stay on by Professor Purcell.

Mrs Bond said she raised concerns about governance with the regulator, the Higher Education Funding Council.

A report found there was not enough evidence to justify an investigation into the university’s governing body, but did recommend an external review of governance. This is yet to get under way.

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  • Number_crunch  |  August 22 2014, 7:54AM

    Meanwhile, I have been unable to find any recently published commentary in mainstream media regarding the standing of University of Plymouth among UK universities. Regardless of the merits and pitfalls of "league tables", Plymouth's ranking among UK universities has been in freefall for the past 4 years, taking the university from well within the top 50% of all UK universities to an all-time low within the bottom 35%, an unprecedented trajectory that has been matched by staff morale. Student numbers have also plunged by almost 12% since 2011. Even the university's own website has neglected to keep up to date with these embarrassing statistics. Figures for student numbers and university ranking, sourced from the most recently released and publicly available data on the HESA website and from all the major UK university guides, can be obtained from Wikipedia's listing for Plymouth University (see link below). Given the likely financial impact of these outcomes, rather than indulging in tit for tat exchange of accusation and counter accusation, those paid substantial salaries and responsible for pursuing this strategy should be held to account for their poor performance. Or is all this destined to become just another satire and farce worthy of Tom Sharpe? http://tinyurl.com/p79zwmp

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