Colleagues across the campus and in other universities continue to ask for updates on the disciplinary proceedings against Jeff Frank. These appear to have been initiated by Royal Holloway’s Human Resources (HR) department, but the person or persons managing the process on behalf of Senior Management have remained anonymous. There has been concern about the exceptional role of Professional Services in actions concerning an academic, and the implications for academic freedom.
The controversy created has been discussed in national and local media. We are grateful for the expressions of support conveyed to us by numerous UCU local branches. They have asked what they can do to help.
You may recall some of the history. Although suspension should not be used as a disciplinary measure, or in a ‘kneejerk’ fashion, Jeff has been suspended for seven months on charges that soon proved flimsy and included Jeff showing a ‘lack of fidelity’. The charges concerned actions Jeff took as a union case worker and as the local UCU’s Equalities and Diversity Officer on behalf of colleagues. HR abandoned collective bargaining arrangements, preferring instead to take out disciplinary action against a UCU representative.
We understand that the disciplinary panel sent its conclusions to Jeff very recently and regret that these are extremely serious. We cannot give details at this time, but observe that the sanctions represent a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over Jeff that potentially impacts on his academic freedom going forward as well as on his ability to support colleagues in his union role.
As soon as we have further details, we will of course circulate them.