May 18, 2007

Open Letter to Mr Robert Moreton - The 'correct' procedures

Dear Professor Roberton Moreton,
Dean of the School of Computing and Information Technology, Wolverhampton University

In the Times Higher Education Supplement of 18 May 2007, we read the following: '...Robert Moreton... said in a statement: "Following a series of incidents, I can confirm that a member of staff in the School of Computing and IT has been dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct." He said that all allegations by the staff member had been "fully dealt with" under correct procedures, adding that staff welfare is a priority for the university.'

Professor Moreton we have some questions about the above statement.

Firstly, if the member of staff who was dismissed on the grounds of 'gross misconduct' did not approve of you sharing this with the media, then this could potentially constitute a breach of confidential information and could be reported to the Information Commissioner. Did you have the approval of the staff member to share his dismissal with the above publication?

Secondly, you state that 'correct procedures' were followed in reaching the decision to dismiss the staff member.

When a staff member raises in writing concerns about lack of support and allegations of workplace bullying, are you aware that this should be dealt with as a formal grievance? What efforts for mediation did the university attempt?

Did you follow the three-step discipline and dismissal procedure (as described by ACAS) before you reached the decision to dismiss the staff member? Did you follow your own internal procedures? Did you seek independent external advice, for example from the Andrea Adams Trust?

Was the staff member allowed to read transcripts of witness statements, and was he invited to present witnesses? What representation did he have and was this adequate?
How have issues of confidentiality been dealt with? What training did the investigators have?

Unless there are answers to the above questions, any claim that correct procedures were followed, and that staff welfare is a priority for the university are unsubstantiated.

Lastly, we wish to quote the following from ACAS: '...Most people have very clear ideas about what they think is fair. These are partly a reflection of personal values. However, in society we also have shared values – and many of these are associated with the idea of 'natural justice'.

Natural justice refers to certain fundamental principles of justice that many of us deem to be fair. Conflict often occurs when we neglect our duty:

  • to give someone a fair hearing
  • to explain the reasoning behind a decision
  • to be impartial
  • to hear an appeal against a decision.
Your organisation's procedures and policies must include key aspects of natural justice.'

Yours sincerely,

Louise Michel