Vexed again

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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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Swansea thinks we are ‘vexatious’

The Eye have been dubbed “vexatious” once more by Swansea University for asking questions about a jailed fraudster they employed, who was exposed by us.

Stephen Chan was imprisoned by a court in America for four years and three months, and ordered to pay more than $12,500,000 in compensation. His jail term, ordered by the court in Boston, was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud.
The Eye revealed the truth about Chan’s past

The fraud only ended when the FBI searched one of the companies’ offices in August 1998, using a warrant. But Chan was employed on a contract at the contentious School of Management at the University, and serious questions have been raised about the judgement of the present head of the School, Marc Clement.  Chan now lives with his mother in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Mounting concerns about Chan’s time at Swansea have refused to disappear, and in the early days The Eye was virtually alone in reporting them. 

Chan was imprisoned by Boston law courts for more than four years and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation

The Eye Editor, Phil Parry, asked a series of detailed questions about his PhD, and whether officials in charge knew of Chan’s background before he was employed, but Mr Parry was told the University “is not obliged to provide you with the requested information”.

In answer to another question, the response came that it was a “Vexatious Request”.  A further inquiry was denied after the University said:  “… there is no requirement to conduct a public interest test and no requirement to provide any information or confirm or deny whether the information is held”.

In fact, answers to all queries about Chan’s ‘qualification’ and whether senior management knew of his past were refused.

In full, the questions from Mr Parry to Swansea University are as follows:

We asked a series of questions about the convicted fraudster Swansea employed

(i) The second supervisor of Chan’s PhD was Prof Mark Rees at Swansea University.  What is his title?  (ii) Why was Chan’s PhD dissertation not deposited with the British Library’s EThos system (E- theses on-line services)?  (iii) Did the External Examiner see Chan’s dissertation?

(iv) Does Swansea University hold a physical copy of Chan’s dissertation?  (v) Did the Vice Chancellor, Richard Davies, know about Chan’s past when he was jailed for fraud in the US, and the University (a) awarded him his PhD (b) appointed him to a professorial chair in the School of Management?

(vi) Did the University’s Academic Registrar, Raymond Ciborowski, know about Chan’s past when the University (a) awarded him his PhD (b) appointed him to a professorial chair in the School of Management?

Did Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor Hilary Lappin-Scott know?

(vii) Did Hilary Lappin-Scott (who had responsibility for the oversight of the School of Management) know about Chan’s past when the University (a) awarded him his PhD (b) appointed him to a professorial chair in the School of Management?

(viii) Did the University’s Director of Human Resources David Williams know about Chan’s past when the University (a) awarded him his PhD (b) appointed him to a professorial chair in the School of Management?

Did Sir Roger Jones know?

(ix) Was the Chairman of the Court of Governors, Sir Roger Jones, advised about Chan’s psst when the University (a) awarded him his PhD (b) appointed him to a professorial chair in the School of Management?

All of these questions were denied.

But this is not the first time Swansea University has refused our inquiries about Chan on the grounds we are “vexatious” – in August last year, officials also blocked them.

We asked then when Chan’s PhD was originally registered with the University of Wales (UoW), and when it was transferred to Swansea.

When was Chan’s PhD registered at the University of Wales?

But we were told:  In relation to your particular request, the following exemption applies:

“Section 14(2) – Vexatious Request Section 40(2) – Personal InformationSection 14(2) – Vexatious Request. Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious.”

Peter Black wanted answers

Earlier the same year, we had asked:  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?”

Former Welsh education minister Huw Lewis was urged to make a statement

But these questions too were refused by officials at the university.

Chan was “Professor of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things”. But we have not been alone in asking questions about his qualifications. The then Welsh education minister Huw Lewis, was put on the spot by the Assembly Member who covered the area at the time, Peter Black.

Head of the University’s management school, Marc Clement, was named

He asked:  “Will the Minister (Mr Lewis) make a statement regarding the appointment of senior staff at Swansea University’s School of Management, following reports that a meeting was held between the Dean of the School, Marc Clements (sic), and University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Davies about the qualifications of Professor Steve Chan?”.

Following our disclosures about Chan’s jail term, his contract was terminated,and he was later hired as an ‘advisor’ by the leading high-tech firm Synerscope which provides computerised imaging, and specialises in access to “dark data” which is never normally analysed.

Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies was also named

The head of the University’s management school, Marc Clement, also has a controversial past, and serious questions have been raised too among his own staff, this time about his salary.

Let us hope these questions are also not dubbed ‘vexatious’ by Swansea University officials.

 

 

  •  After publication of this story The Eye was contacted and given a statement as follows:  “The University has not denied the questions, but refused to provide answers to the question”.
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