Magazine article Times Higher Education

Concerns about the Behaviour of Plymouth Chair Predate Current Crisis

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Concerns about the Behaviour of Plymouth Chair Predate Current Crisis

Article excerpt

Senior figures at Plymouth University were told as early as 2012 of claims that its chair of governors had shown "unacceptable behaviour" towards members of staff, Times Higher Education has learned.

William Taylor, the retired judge who chairs Plymouth's board of governors, announced last week that he had initiated an independent investigation into claims that he had sexually harassed female staff, which he denies.

He has stood aside pending the investigation's findings.

The crisis at Plymouth has been deepening since 1 July, when it emerged that Wendy Purcell, the university's vice-chancellor, had been "placed on leave" by Mr Taylor and the board of governors. It has now emerged that Professor Purcell was initially suspended but her status has since changed and she is currently on paid leave.

Mr Taylor said in his statement last week that at a "late stage in the review of matters involving the vice-chancellor, she submitted allegations against me to my fellow governors".

THE understands that at least one member of the board of governors was made aware of allegations against Mr Taylor of "unacceptable behaviour" towards members of staff in December 2012.

The allegations were not raised by Professor Purcell.

Mr Taylor had been appointed chair of governors in October 2012.

However, in a statement, Plymouth's acting chair of governors, Steve Pearce, says that concerns raised in 2012 related to "wider working practices".

"No member of the board had any knowledge of [sexual harassment] allegations before receiving the vice-chancellor's correspondence [last month]," he says. …

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