University ordered to abandon pounds 1/2 m pay-off

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The Independent Online
HUDDERSFIELD University was yesterday ordered by the Higher Education Funding Council to abandon plans to pay its departing vice-chancellor an 'excessive' golden handshake reported to be worth pounds 500,000.

The council has taken legal advice and believes that the university may have exceeded its powers in agreeing the severance deal for Professor Kenneth Durrands, who resigned after staff passed a vote of no confidence in his regime.

Professor Durrands - who was believed to be on an annual salary of pounds 120,000 - was expected to leave with a package incuding three years' pay, a new car every two years and private Bupa medical cover for life, when his contract ends on 31 January. He resigned in June after 24 years' service.

But yesterday it emerged that Professor Graeme Davies, the council's chief executive, had written to the university demanding it should set aside the deal and re- think.

With a thinly veiled threat of further legal action, the funding body stated: 'In agreeing the payment the university may have exceeded its powers.

''We will decide on what further action to take in the light of the university's response.'

The council said it had sent a report to the Comptroller and Auditor General of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. 'Our legal advisers think we have a strong case to take to a judicial review.' a spokesman said.

The university was said to be considering its response.