Britain’s best-paid university boss has apologised after being found guilty of bullying – but has refused to quit.
Last week the Daily Mail revealed how the Texan academic and one of her top lieutenants were subject to a secret probe this summer over a culture of ‘bullying and harassment’.
Professor Alice Gast (pictured), who earns a pay package of £554,000 a year as the president of Imperial College London, was subject to a probe this summer over a culture of ‘bullying and harassment’
Imperial initially refused to reveal the inquiry’s conclusions – but it has finally relented after pressure from MPs and its students.
The report found Professor Gast, 62, had ‘bullied one senior colleague’, while her chief financial officer, Muir Sanderson, bullied two individuals.
Professor Gast said: ‘I am very sorry that I bullied someone. I have offered full apologies to colleagues who have been personally affected.’
Mr Sanderson said: ‘The bullying was during a three-week period this year when I was under significant pressure. However, that is no excuse.’
The claims were investigated by a QC, Jane McNeill, and Imperial published a summary of her findings. She suggested ‘further training on human resources processes’ and that Professor Gast should be offered ‘coaching’.
The university faced claims of ‘brutal’ mistreatment of staff and a ‘vipers’ nest’ environment.
Those who spoke out complained about being accused of incompetence by Professor Gast, with some even needing to sign off sick due to the ‘toxic’ environment.
Imperial College initially refused to reveal the inquiry’s conclusions – but it has finally relented after pressure from MPs and its students
But Imperial has refused to reveal the details of Professor Gast’s bullying behaviour, citing confidentiality.
And it is understood that she has no intention of stepping aside.
The university will also not answer questions as to why Professor Gast was not dismissed or if there have been any changes to her pay.
Imperial’s student union has questioned how the report’s findings could be ‘reconciled with the college’s zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment’.
And lecturers’ union the UCU called for the pair to quit. The Office for Students, which can sanction institutions for having unfit leaders, is investigating the findings.