Students and Universities - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Letter of 7 May 2009 from Mr Phil Willis MP, Chairman of the Committee, to Professor J S Brooks, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University

  In your letter of 3 April responding to mine of 26 March about Professor Walter Cairns you stated that, if the Committee considered that there was a "risk of being in contempt of the House", you were "willing to reconvene the [Academic] Board to reconsider this issue" and you sought my view on the "appropriateness and efficacy of this course of action". On my instruction the Second Clerk replied on 17 April. He explained that, if you and your advisers concluded that a contempt might have taken place, even if inadvertently, a possible reversal of the Board's decision would be an important factor for the Committee to take into account. No reply has been received.

The Committee discussed the matter on 6 May and have asked me to write to establish whether the Academic Board has or will re-consider the matter of Professor Cairns' expulsion. If it does consider the matter, it would assist the Committee to be informed of the outcome. I should be grateful if you would clarify the position by 20 May.

  The Committee will consider your reply when it considers the matter further, which is expected to be at its first meeting in June. I should add that any reply from the University is without prejudice to the Committee's deliberations or decision, which could include asking the House of Commons to refer the matter to the Standards and Privileges Committee.

  I should advise you that your reply may be published.

May 2009

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