From: "Martin George"
Date: Wed, April 21, 2010 12:17 pm
David has passed your email about Kingston University's employment tribunal expenditure on to me. The university disputed the figures they themselves submitted in response to the FOI request, and have now taken over two weeks to get back to us with what they say are the accurate figures. See their attached statement.
They now say they spent £635,165 on the six employment tribunals, including legal expenses from court action linked to your case.
They say nearly three quarters of this relates to your case - nearly half a million pounds. This is the roughly the equivalent to the tution fees of 150 undergraduates, or double the total amount of bursaries offered to international students.
What do you think about this? Are you surprised by this figure? Do you think it was money well spent?
Thank you for your email.
I am most disappointed, but not entirely surprised to learn of the enormity of sums expended by Kingston University with respect to legal costs.
At a time when the government is cutting funding to most higher education institutions, and during a period of economic recession, itappears to me that Kingston University is more concerned with protecting its reputation and that of its senior management than it is with achieving its mission of providing access to high quality education for its students.
The amounts spent by the University to pursue unsuccessful and misconceived legal action with the World Intellectual Property Organisation against a disabled and unwell former staff member, and to defend against legitimate claims in the Employment Tribunal, lodged in response to what I experienced as a culture of bullying and discrimination, could have been much better spent on improving academic standards, on improving the health and well being of staff, and most of all on providing financial support to deserving and well-qualified students in order to enable them to achieve their full potential.
I understand that the University plans to increase the use of voluntary severance programmes for staff members at a time when student numbers are increasing.
In my view, that can only lead to increased stress levels for remaining staff and a reduction in the quality of academic experience for students.
This unfortunate state of affairs could have been mitigated had the University responded positively to staff concerns instead of attempting to cover up the University's shortcomings by spending disproportionate sums of public funds on legal costs to silence matters of wide public interest.
---------- Original Message -----
From: Coslett, Cara
To: Martin George, David Rankin
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 12:13 PM
Subject: Legal expenditure statement
Hi Martin, David,
Please see the attached statement on Kingston University's legal expenditure on employment tribunals.
The figure quoted gives you the amount spent on legal fees incurred in relation to employment tribunals, but also includes those fees incurred due to a court action that was linked to one of these tribunals. We have been unable to remove the cost of this court case as we have changed solicitors since the action was taken, and have not been able to access this information.
Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting this information to you, it has been a very complicated process and I wanted to be certain that I was providing you with the correct information. Unfortunately we have discovered that there were inaccuracies in the figures supplied in response to the original FOI request due to complications related to academic, financial and calendar years. I want to thank you for bringing this to our attention, we have now been able to supply this updated information to the person who submitted the original FOI request.
Press Officer, Kingston University
Room 2, River House, 53-57 High Street,
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 1LQ
Statement on legal expenditure on employment tribunals
With more than 2,000 staff and 23,000 students, Kingston is one of the larger higher education institutions in the country and takes its responsibility as an employer very seriously. To this end the University is committed to ensuring that due process is followed in relation to all employment matters.
During the three years from January 2007 to December 2009 the University incurred legal fees in relation to six employment tribunals. It also incurred legal expenses due to a court action linked to one of these tribunals. These totaled £635,165. Nearly three-quarters of this amount relates to one long-running case, which the employment tribunal struck out earlier this year.