A controversial Welsh university has refused to comment on details received by The Eye that a contentious academic sacked for “gross misconduct” has been given financial compensation, it has emerged.
In response to our question: “…we have received information that you have settled compensation with ‘Professor’ Clement? If this is the case then how much is it for?”, a spokesperson would say only: “It would not be appropriate for Swansea University to comment on an ongoing employment tribunal case”.
‘Professor’ Marc Clement (the former Dean of Swansea University’s [SU] School of Management) was dismissed along with the institution’s one-time Vice Chancellor (VC), Richard Davies, and a major police inquiry was mounted, with a huge land deal at the centre of it all.
During the top-level investigation into it, South Wales Police (SWP) said the Regional Organised Crime Unit (Tarian) executed “a number of warrants as part of an investigation into alleged bribery offences. Seven (then eight) addresses in Swansea, Carmarthenshire, and Kent are being searched with the assistance of colleagues”.
A statement from SU made plain that senior executives were also included in a probe. It stated baldly: “In September 2018, the University investigated a payment that had been made to Raymond Ciborowski (the University’s former Registrar) upon the termination of his employment. This investigation found that the agreement governing the termination of Raymond Ciborowski’s employment as Registrar contained irregular and inappropriate provisions.”
Meanwhile the abrupt departure of another senior executive at SU drew attention once again to the multi-million pound land redevelopment scheme, where ‘apologies’ have been demanded after the official prosecution service decided to take no action in the alleged bribery investigation which followed its creation.
Andrew Rhodes left SU after three years in his role as Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, but his resignation highlighted how the police had to be called in over this £200 million Pentre Awel (Breezy Village) land scheme (formerly ‘Wellness Village‘) at Delta Lakes, near Llanelli.
It has also been supported by an extraordinary anonymous internal computer campaign in which he was named negatively (which has also been investigated by the police).
The Pentre Awel scheme formed part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, and was run in partnership with SU, as well as Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health boards, with the enormous venture to have included research and business development facilities, a state-of-the-art care home as well as an assisted living and rehabilitation centre, outdoor leisure space, a wellness hotel, and a new leisure centre – but it has been controversial from the start.
The earlier (fuller) statement from SU, continued: “… gains included salaries from future appointments and equity potentially worth millions of pounds. The evidence suggested that there were material and serious interests that should have been declared under the University’s policies and procedures”.
A previous communication from SU’s ‘Associate Director Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Head of Legal and Compliance Services’ declared: “The matters under investigation are very serious.
“The University has invested a significant amount of resource investigating the alleged misconduct, as have the authorities. It is essential that nothing is done to undermine the on-going processes. They must be allowed to run their course without interference.”
This comment may have been directed at the astonishing anonymous, and legally questionable, online campaign within SU, from someone calling him or herself ‘Your friend’, which backed the contentious project and those who supported it, but undermined people who were seen to be obstacles to it.
Part of one of the libellous messages from ‘Your friend’ stated: “As your Institution’s suspensions farce continues through its eight(h) month, you may wish to reflect on the person responsible for it and the standard of professional conduct (he) deem(s) appropriate”. It included an official UK Government document naming Mr Rhodes, and added tendentiously: “Properly declaring interest to your employer and following the rules are important things; pity not everybody manages to do this”.
After the included UK Government document, the message went on: “If you hold him (Mr Rhodes) to the same standard, now is the time for the ready-made Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Registrar, Professor Steve Wilkes, to support your new Vice Chancellor (VC) to deliver once again an era of unimaginable gold and honey, interrupted following the appointment of your current Registrar. Only this can stop the exodus involving (former Pro Vice-Chancellor [PVC]) Professor Hillary (sic) Lappin-Scott and your Director of Finance (who were leaving or had left) – or, has the latter been deported?”.
A senior police source told The Eye exclusively: “We will be looking closely at this to see whether any laws have been broken”.
After the police investigation into it all was wound down, SU issued a statement, which said: “The police have confirmed to Swansea University that there was evidence of potential criminal offending identified and secured against individuals and companies subject to their enquiry…”.
The statement also highlighted the role of one of the architects of the giant scheme, (‘Professor’ Clement) a backer of whom demanded an apology online when the police investigation could find no evidence for a criminal prosecution. It continued: “The university’s decision to dismiss Marc Clement was based on serious breaches of Swansea University procedures and was never dependent on a criminal investigation by the police or decision to prosecute by the CPS.”
Despite this a reader of The Eye recently urged us on Twitter to retract the story ‘What’s in a name’ from November 11 (which was actually called ‘Inclement’) about Marc Clement “since ALL charges have been proven no case to answer and he has been shown to do EVERYTHING above board. Apologies to all are welcome…”
But legal experts have confirmed to our journalists that the fact charges have been dropped, does NOT actually mean ‘Professor’ Clement is entirely in the clear, and in this case one of the key witnesses was deemed too ill to testify. One of the legal specialists The Eye have spoken to, told us: “‘Apologies to all…’ are inappropriate”.
So major questions remain about the huge scheme, as well as ‘Professor’ Clement’s continued use of the title.
Intriguingly, even The BBC employed it in coverage of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to pursue charges. The corporation said there had been a “catastrophic failure of governance” according to “Prof Marc Clement (who) was sacked for gross misconduct, with bribery allegations reported to police”.
Apart from by the BBC, he has also been described as a ‘Professor’ by the ‘Learned Society of Wales’, which proclaims on its website that he was elected as a ‘founding fellow’ in 2010 in the areas of “SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, MEDICINE & MATHEMATICS”. It adds that ‘Professor’ Clement was: “Formerly Vice-President and Chair of Innovation and Director of The Institute of Life Science, Swansea University; formerly Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, the University of Wales”.
His published biography states, too: “Prof Marc Robert Clement Board Chairman, interim Chief Science Officer Marc is a renowned academic, inventor and entrepreneur in the field of Life Science and Medical Technology. Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Wales (2007 – 2012)… He has now retired from academic life and is pursuing a career as an entrepreneur and innovator in life science”.
However ‘Professor’ Clement’s former university appeared less inhibited referring to use of this title, than in their more recent statement about his employment tribunal case.
A spokesperson at SU told The Eye sternly: “Marc Clement has not been awarded Emeritus status by Swansea University, so unless another institution has awarded him a title then he is not entitled to be called Professor. The title comes with a role at a certain level and it is common for retiring Professors to seek Emeritus status from their institution in order to retain the title. This was not sought or granted for Marc Clement”.
It seems that the university was more than happy to give this lengthy response, but officials there said: “It would not be appropriate for Swansea University to comment on an ongoing employment tribunal case”, when they were replying to The Eye’s question: “…we have received information that you have settled compensation with ‘Professor’ Clement? If this is the case then how much is it for?”.
But that tribunal case involved a controversial academic who had been sacked for “gross misconduct”…
Tomorrow – the problems of starting a new newspaper, which should cover extraordinary events like these.
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