Here are this week’s headlines:
- New regulations sought to control excessive University pay
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Jo Johnson, Universities Minister, has announced that the excessive pay for university bosses will be tackled via new regulations. His announcement follows a string of high-profile protests against the pay of university vice-chancellors across the country.
In his statement, Johnson declared that the new ‘Office for Students’ regulator would tackle pay concerns and bring excessive pay “under control.” He remains hopeful that the new regulatory framework, which will be published by government in the new year, will offset the public concerns by creating a “greater restraint” when salaries are set. As promised by Theresa May, there will also be a “major review” of tuition fees and university funding, with details of this review expected to appear in the next few weeks.
Issues with the ‘fat cat’ pay within universities has spread into the limelight over the last few months, with students and academics alike protesting the unfair wages being granted to senior staff members. At the University of Bath, vice-chancellor Dame Prof Glynis Breakwell, the highest paid VC in the UK, has announced her resignation in light of the ongoing pay row. This follows the resignation of four local MPs from their roles at the University as a result of her pay, and also a recent a motion of no confidence in which more than 300 staff called for her resignation.
Breakwell will be taking a one year sabbatical before officially retiring, during which time she will continue to receive her salary of £468,000 and will also have a car loan worth around £31,000 written off. The Higher Education Funding Council for England will be looking into these retirement terms following a letter by a Labour councillor regarding “governance issues.” This issue has also been fuelled by recent reports that former vice-chancellor for Bath Spa University, Prof Christina Slade, was handed more than £800,000 in her final year at the University.
In addition to these cases, protests at both the University of Birmingham and Southampton University have shed light on the alleged involvement of vice-chancellors in the setting of their pay. At Southampton University, a spokesperson was forced to backtrack on previous accounts that Sir Christopher Snow was not on the remuneration committee which set his pay, when it was revealed that until recently his pay was decided by a ‘senior salaries committee’ of which he was a member. The University asserts that Snowden was not present at meetings where his pay was set. University and College Union research shows that more than two-thirds of vice-chancellors in the UK sit on the committee that sets their pay.
In the new year, the new regulations will set out rules requiring clear evidence of the independence of committees when setting the pay of vice chancellors. In addition to this, there will also be an obligation for universities to explain the pay gap between top earners and the rest of their staff.
- Home Office threatens to deport a polish man having reported an attack
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
Miroslaw Zieba has been detained for over two months and is being threatened with deportation after he reported a crime.
His wife said that they went to the police after their landlord was attempting to force them out, threatening them with a kitchen knife.
Zieba was injured. The couple then reported the attack to the police. The police then started questioning their immigration status and sent Zieba to immigration officials. He was later detained in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near Heathrow.
Zieba, according to his lawyer, is an EU citizen with the right to work in the UK. Despite the fact that he has a criminal record dated back to 1990, the Home Office is under no obligation to deport him solely upon that basis.
Zieba’s solicitor Fahad Ansari, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said to The Guardian that his client was appealing against the decision. The case is to be heard on the 2nd January 2018.
Fahad Ansari said: “It beggars belief that we are now living in a society where foreign nationals should be apprehensive about reporting crimes to the police out of fear of being detained and deported themselves.”
Read more here.
- Officers held to not be responsible for death in custody
Reported by Paige Waters
Sean Rigg’s, aged 40, died in custody in August 2008 whilst being detained at Brixton police station in south London. Following the investigation, almost 10 years later, it has been decided that the five metropolitan police officers involved within the arrest, restraint and detention of Riggs will not face charges.
The family of Riggs have called the decision made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) “shameful”. They now have to wait for a decision to be made as to whether or not there will be any misconduct proceedings to be brought against the officers.
Riggs suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was living in a hostel. The arrest was made after the police received a phone call saying that Riggs had allegedly smashed up a gazebo and made karate moves which the staff of the hostel believed to be threatening.
In September 2016, the CPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for the five offences. A spokesperson for the CPS stated “the family of Mr. Rigg asked the CPS to review that decision under our victims’ right to review scheme.”
“A full review of the evidence, including new material provided by the IPCC, was undertaken by a specialist CPS prosecutor who was not involved in the original decision. The review has not concluded and has upheld the original decision not to authorise charges in relation to the death of Mr. Rigg, on the basis that the evidential test in the code for crown prosecutors is not met.”
Daniel Machover spoke on behalf of the Riggs family, stating “it is saddening that the CPS has failed to bring charges that would help to bring about change and accountability. The decision is deeply disappointing to Sean Riggs family and their supporters, given the findings of the inquest jury, that the police were guilty of using an unsuitable level of force on Sean. The jury also found that the officers’ use of the prone position for eight minutes contributed to Sean’s death.
In 2012, the inquest jury found that the restraint the police officers used was unnecessary and unsuitable.
Read more here.