More evidence can be revealed exclusively today by The Eye of a high-profile dirty tricks campaign underway at a controversial Welsh university where the man in charge and the head of one of his schools have been suspended while a major investigation is undertaken.
The disturbing events at Swansea University have been ignored by the mainstream media in Wales but can now be reported by our journalists.
We have also been alone in disclosing that the suspensions of the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Richard Davies, the Dean of his School of Management, Marc Clement, and two others are connected with a multi-million pound development scheme.
Now The Eye can divulge that staff at the contentious university have been sent another email from “Your Friend” trashing the reputation of the senior official conducting a top-level inquiry into the pair as well as the others.
The email libellously alleges that the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at the university, Andrew Rhodes, has ‘failed’ elsewhere and possesses a worrying track record.
Unspoken, but put alongside others, it attacks the credentials of Mr Rhodes to take over as VC.
The latest scurrilous internal communication reads: “The Registrar of your
University is using the most expensive London law firm and deploying them
using student fees to crush four individuals, each having to deploy their
own resources to defend themselves”.
The email adds: “This is clearly a David and Goliath situation.
“… One of my friends in a Welsh law firm estimated that the fees to the London
law firm would have already exceeded GBP 100,000. University money (is being used) to
defend the Registrar’s career.”
The ‘friend’ clearly supports Professor Davies – calling for his reinstatement, and stresses an internal ‘vote’ should be held to back him, saying: “P.S.: I remind you of the plea for Professor Richard B Davies’ reinstatement in time for the Graduation Ceremony – do not forget to vote (it is completely anonymous!)”.
The readers of the email are directed to another website which highlights the bonuses of civil servants, stating: “The Registrar has failed elsewhere… “
But this is not the first time The Eye have revealed a defamatory email circulating among staff at Swansea University as senior officials jockey for position to take over permanently from Professor Davies.
An earlier email from ‘a friend’ boosted the reputation of the Pro Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University, Hilary Lappin-Scott, who is among those tipped to take over as VC.
It said: “… the wonderful work of Professor Hillary (sic) Lappin-Scott and its global recognition (has) been negated by (recent) events”.
He or she ‘told’ staff at the university’s School of Management that the institution was due to receive an important award but lost it due to the suspensions and press coverage.
As we reported, further emails were to be expected because this one finished: “I will try to continue to keep you informed with truth”.
But the emails have come under fire from many in Swansea University.
These tactics were accused of being underhand, and have emerged as the academic world and beyond are still shocked by the suspensions.
The Eye had reported initially that the extraordinary disciplinary actions against Professors Davies and Clement, may have been connected with our revelations the university employed a crook called Steve Chan at its management school.
Chan had been jailed for four years by a court in Boston after a huge fraud, which was followed by three years of supervised release, and he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.
But we showed how the suspensions were in fact part of the inquiry into alleged improprieties at the Wellness and Life Science Village in Carmarthenshire.
The scheme at Llanelli has been described by its backers as the “largest ever regeneration project in South West Wales”, and had laudable aims – to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the area, as well as creating 2,000 high-quality jobs and boosting the economy by £467m over 15 years, but it has been beset by controversy from the start.
Swansea University has combined with Sterling Health Security Holdings to raise a huge amount of money for the project.
Sterling Health is registered in London, and its directors include Franz Hermann Dickmann, as well as the former leader of Carmarthenshire County Council Meryl Gravell.
We lodged a series of questions through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Swansea University, but the information was refused on the grounds the request was “vexatious”.
Four of the questions we asked in the FOIA were:
- What was the exact date that Professor Steve Chan of the School of Management registered for his Ph.D at Swansea University?
- What was the exact date that he undertook his viva voce examination for his Ph.D?
- Who were the members of his Ph.D viva committee (including external examiners)?
- Who approved the appointment of the supervisors for his Ph.D?
The issues about Chan as well as the ‘Wellness Village’ project, prompted serious questions about the judgements of Professors Clement and Davies.
The internal message informing staff of their suspension in Welsh and English to staff from Mr Rhodes, said: “The Vice-Chancellor has been suspended while (an) investigation is ongoing, as have the Dean of the School of Management and two other members of staff at the School”.
Our investigation is also ongoing – but unlikely to receive as much attention!
Also on The Eye – a scandal at another Welsh university…