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Academics call for inquiry into `sacrificial' suicide

Leading academics and members of the House of Lords are to ask the Queen's representative to investigate the death of a former government adviser who committed suicide last year.

An inquest on David Regan, 55, who was head of politics at Nottingham University and who had been adviser to successive education ministers, heard that he had killed himself in a sacrificial protest against the university's management. The hearing was told he felt it had become a "money-oriented dictatorship".

Professor Regan left letters to friends, ministers and the university's chancellor and vice chancellor as well as to the coroner when he died in his fume-filled car in July 1994. The coroner refused to read out the letters, but friends of the professor said they expressed "anger and despair" over the way the university was being run. He had been concerned about his future, in particular a notice to quit his house on campus which had been served on him by the university.

Prof Regan had been adviser to several education ministers, including Kenneth Clarke.

An inquiry by the president of the university council, David Atkin, has not stopped calls for an independent investigation. The university's council, comprising 45 academics, former staff and students has rejected the idea twice but its court will vote on it on Wednesday.

Now eight prominent friends of Prof Regan's family are to ask for the involvement of the University Visitor, the Queen. Among them are Baroness Cox, deputy speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Dainton, chancellor of the University of Sheffield, and Sir Gordon Hobday, former chancellor of Nottingham University.

They will ask the Queen's representative, Tony Newton, Lord President of the Council, to take action.

The eight said both Prof Regan's death and subsequent events had caused concern, and there should be an inquiry into the university's administration regarding them.

Philip Dalling, the university's spokesman, said its council overwhelmingly believed the matter had been handled properly.