Gloucestershire University manager 'plotted coup'

A former investment banker tried to force out a university vice-chancellor so he could have her job, an employment tribunal has been told.

Paul Bowler was accused of "plotting a coup" against Professor Patricia Broadfoot, who has since retired from the University of Gloucestershire.

Mr Bowler, who is a witness in a tribunal brought by another member of staff, said he denied the allegation.

He was made a deputy vice-chancellor last year but has since stepped down.

The Bristol tribunal has been brought by the university's business manager Jan Merrigan, who claims she suffered a detriment after blowing the whistle on the state of the university's finances.

Mr Bowler had been employed by the university in May 2009 to sort out the financial problems, when the institution had a £3m deficit, the tribunal was told.

'Straight question'

He was later accused of insubordination and suspended before resigning.

Mr Bowler told the tribunal Prof Broadfoot had asked him if he felt she should resign and he had said she should.

The Rev Malcolm Herbert, chairman of the university's council, then told him last November he was being suspended.

Christopher Howells, representing the university, asked Mr Bowler: "Is it right that you were accused by Rev Herbert of being involved in a course of conduct that undermined the vice-chancellor?"

He added: "You were plotting a coup against the vice-chancellor and trying to have her removed and you were trying to put yourself in her position?"

Mr Bowler denied he was trying to force out Prof Broadfoot and said he had been suspended after he made it known he was considering quitting.

He said: "The vice-chancellor asked me should she resign and I said yes.

"She did discuss it with other people and I was asked a very straight question and I gave the answer yes."

Prof Broadfoot retired in August.

A University of Gloucestershire spokeswoman said: "The university contests the allegations being made by Mrs Jan Merrigan and is unable to make further comment until proceedings have been completed."

The tribunal is expected to end on Thursday.

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