Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Vilnius Memo' Libel Case: Campus Spent £1.2M on Six-Year Battle

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Vilnius Memo' Libel Case: Campus Spent £1.2M on Six-Year Battle

Article excerpt

Manchester Met's legal costs revealed for lawsuit Lithuanians settled for £113K. Holly Else reports

Manchester Metropolitan University spent almost £1.2 million in legal costs defending a libel action brought by one of its own academics despite a Lithuanian university also involved in the case settling for one-tenth of the sum.

A Freedom of Information request by Times Higher Education revealed that Manchester Met spent £1,181,454 relating to a court case surrounding a document known as the "Vilnius memo", which an employee from Vilnius University wrote about Khalid Ansari, a former senior lecturer in the department of food and tourism management at Manchester Met.

In August 2007, several staff from Manchester Met including Mr Ansari visited Vilnius in connection with a project to create a joint master's programme. This was followed by a return visit by staff from Vilnius that December.

During the return visit, Viktorija Zilinskaite, at the time a project coordinator at Vilnius, sent an email about Mr Ansari to his supervisors and another Manchester Met academic, Timothy Knowles.

According to court judgments from the case, the email contained a series of allegations - later acknowledged as false by Vilnius - about Mr Ansari's professional and personal conduct.

Dr Knowles, now a principal lecturer in the tourism and events management department in the Hollings Faculty at Manchester Met, forwarded the email to two colleagues in the university's human resources department and the head of another academic department, which lawyers argued made him a co-author and re-publisher of the memo. …

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