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What is happening at Swansea University?!

On the very day it emerged that a fifth senior executive is under investigation at a scandal-hit Welsh university where the Vice-Chancellor (VC) has been suspended and a crook exposed by The Eye was employed, an internal dirty tricks campaign which we have been almost alone in reporting has been stepped up.

The underhand gmail campaign at controversial Swansea University is headlined “disgraceful events” and alleges the reputation of the institution is being “trashed”, the search for a replacement VC is “an abject failure” and that information has been ‘leaked’.

Who is ‘Your friend’?

At the same time, BBC Wales had claimed it had “seen documents which indicate Paul Roberts has raised a grievance with the university”.

As before, the gmail yesterday was sent to the chair of the university’s council, Sir Roger Jones, as well as staff, and comes from ‘Your friend’, although it has been delivered using another different created ‘address’, marked:  “The iniquities Of the selfish”.

The anonymous gmail campaign goes on

It poses a series of tendentious questions to staff, including:  “Not even 17 weeks ago your university was tarnished beyond belief. And to what purpose? If there was criminality why are you footing the bill for an ever-expanding witch-hunt? It has got to the point where those who started must find something to justify their folly…”.

Suspended Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Richard Davies and the School of Management Dean Marc Clement are under investigation

During the campaign which is designed to undermine the top-level investigation, many different gmail addresses have been used including ‘Saint Homobonus’, ‘Lilith Sumerian’ and ‘Ivs Titia’.

Another in the sequence of gmails sent by ‘Your friend’ alleged previous messages were “blocked” and again said that a “witch hunt” was underway. The message came after we had disclosed that the only internal candidate to be interviewed to take over as VC at Swansea had publicly boosted the reputation of a jailed former convict we have revealed called Steve Chan in publicity before a conference where he was to appear representing the university.

‘Your friend’ said Hilary Lappin-Scott’s ‘global recognition’ had been ‘negated’

But the internal gmail campaign has been totally ignored by the mainstream media, and has been conducted ever since the astonishing investigation was launched at Swansea University at the same time as the extraordinary suspension of the VC Richard Davies, and the Dean of his School of Management Marc Clement as well as two others. Professor Davies has since announced his intention to retire.

‘Your friend’ likes her…

Apart from attempting to undermine the investigaiton, the underhand campaign also appears to be designed to boost the reputations of those who have been suspended, as well as key senior executives such as the contentious senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott.

Yet The Eye have shown how Professor Lappin-Scott enraged her own workers by sending Tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’, and her exploits have become the subject of our satirical writer.

Phil Parry – ‘trolling’?

The anonymous messages have claimed in the past Professor Lappin-Scott would lead the university to “an era of gold and honey”. In part, one recent gmail to staff as well as the chair of the univerty’s council read:   “Why are these things happening and being leaked to Sion Barry (the Western Mail Business Editor) and, in turn, (our Editor) Phil Parry (someone trolling Professor Hillary {sic} Lappin-Scott) whilst in the middle of an independent internal investigation?”.

Is it a ‘kangaroo court’ as said in the anonymous gmail campaign?

Another added:  “Appended below you can find the previous installments (American spelling) and alleges there has been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews – almost as if the facts were at odds with the desired outcome”. Although mis-spelt a further gmail was clear: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

Professors Clement (top middle) and Davies (bottom left) with other members of the’Wellness’ team

In one of the internal gmails following revelations about a Kuwait project which forms part of the investigation and was headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a series of unlawful claims against a named individual were made, and among the few lines we can publish is:  “I am confident we should expect retaliation by the Kuwaitis”.

Steve Chan – Swansea said they were ‘delighted’ by him

Evidently he or she is unaware of legal rules because as these gmails have been published to a third party they fall within the remit of libel laws, and if this person can be found legal action may follow.

But Swansea University is no stranger to bad headlines.

Our journalists have shown that Chan, who officials have employed on a contract at its School of Management, was jailed for years in America after a massive fraud.

He had been imprisoned by a court in Boston for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation. His jail term was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud – he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

Chan spoke at a conference representing Swansea University

Yet on March 1 2016 Chan appeared as a panellist representing Swansea University at a St. David’s Day event in Brussels called Digital Destination:  Creating Value and Improving Lives’. The promotion before the conference said:  “Swansea University is delighted that Professor Steve Chan will take a leadership role in driving the Big Data agenda forward for Swansea University’s School of ManagementProfessor Steve Chan is the Chair of the Cyber Analytics and Network/Relationship Science Centre at Swansea University and the Chair of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things at Swansea University’s School of Management”.

We were ‘vexatious’ apparently

University officials were less keen, though, to give The Eye information about Chan’s background and we have been told our questions about him in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.

Four of the queries 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?
Alison Jones did not want the job

But using documents we have seen we can now disclose that the answer to the first question is October 2012, to the second May 2013, to the third – one is an academic called Andrew ParkerTherefore according to Swansea University’s own regulations, Chan should not have been allowed to take his viva until at least October 2013.

The university has also been rocked by the remarkable information that Alison Jones who was slated to take over as VC at the university has rejected the job.

The misnamed ‘Wellness’ village under investigation

The Eye were the first to break the news that the unparalleled suspension of her potential predecessor, Professor Daviesas well as at the time three of his officials, and the astonishing investigation, was linked to a massive £200 million regeneration scheme called the Delta Lakes (Llanelli Wellness Village) City Deal and the whole project has been referred to the police.

Mark James held a vital role in scheme under investigation

Apart from the ‘Wellness’ village, the university’s involvement in the enormous plan in Kuwait is also being examined. Senior officers are looking into a ‘joint venture’ in a £600 million proposal for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait, which aimed to attract 5,000 students. Professors Davies and Clement, were on the proposed academic board for the project and the controversial Carmarthenshire Council Chief Executive, Mark James, is listed as a trustee.

But it has emerged Mr James’ role was not listed in the authority’s declaration of interests.

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Also on The Eye – the scandals hitting the entire university sector in Wales. 

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