A source has leaked information to Cherwell that the Governing Body of Brasenose has passed a motion of no confidence of 20 votes to two against the College Principal Roger Cashmore.
The vote of no confidence took place shortly after Cherwell published extracts from the “Confidential” report which detailed the expenses claims of the Principal and his wife, according to the source.
Brasenose College refused to comment on this motion, saying that discussions in the Governing Body are confidential.
The Principal’s Secretary disclosed that Cashmore is now on “research leave”, and has been since 1st October 2010. A spokesperson from the College said, “The Principal has been granted research leave for the academic year 2010/2011 during which time Professor Alan Bowman will be the Acting Principal”.
Brasenose College rejected any suggestion that there was a link between the review of expenses and the Principal’s research leave.
Cherwell can now reveal that shortly after the expenses scandal was reported, Cashmore applied for a post as Chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
The advertisement for the position of Chairman of UK AEA was issued in the Sunday Times on 30th May, just two days after Cherwell published extracts from a college finance committee report. These extracts detailed travel expenses incurred by the Principal and his wife over the past five years.
The report was a summary of a dossier where much of the correspondence was marked “Confidential” or “Strictly confidential”.
In the report summary, the Sub-Committee highlighted several travel expenses claimed by the Principal which were thought to warrant closer scrutiny.
The report raised “serious doubts” as to whether a trip to Pakistan in November 2005 was made on College business, even though it was “funded mainly by the college”.
The report also noted “the high cost of the ticket” for the Principal’s journey to the North American Reunion in April 2004.
It states that despite the fact that “no authorisation seems to have been given” for a trip to North America in 2007 and a “Visit to Greece” in 2008, the Principal flew business class and costs were met by the college in both cases.
In addition to these concerns, the report raised doubts about various travel expenses incurred by the Principal’s wife.
College policy of reimbursement of travel expenses explicitly refers to “members of College” or “college employees obliged to travel during their duties”.
However, the report reveals that prior to July 2008, the College “routinely met the travel expenses of the Principal’s wife” even though “such expenditure had never been expressly authorised”.
The Principal justified the reimbursement of his wife’s travel expenses on the grounds that his wife is a “very active member of the College”.
The report concluded that it was “impossible” to be confident that University rules regarding travel expenses were adhered to.
A spokesperson from Brasenose College said, “The members of the standing Sub-Committee were dismayed that their report to the Governing Body had been leaked to the press.”
Nick Holloway, Media Manager at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, where AEA is based, said, “We are aware of press coverage of an internal Brasenose college matter from earlier in the year, but recognise that this was an internal college issue which we understand has been resolved.
“The Authority has a clear expenses policy reflecting its status as a non departmental public body. Professor Cashmore will be expected to adhere to this in full.”
Shortly after the publication of Cherwell’s article, Cashmore issued a response: “From the time I arrived at Brasenose College in October 2003 my and my wife’s travel expenses were dealt with in accordance with College procedures.”
Cashmore disputed certain claims levelled against him in the Travel Sub-Committee’s report. However, he conceded that, “It is apparent that there is a need for simpler and more robust procedures, and there is general agreement on that in the College.
“The Cherwell article quotes from a report whose recommendations for improved procedures I accept. These procedures are now in place.”
This week, Brasenose College commented, “The [expenses] report did not conclude that the Principal had submitted any claims for travel expenses that were not genuine. The members of the Sub-Committee are confident that there is no question of impropriety on his part.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable appointed Cashmore as the Chair of the UK AEA on 8th July 2010, via the Cabinet Office’s public appointments system. The post is a fixed term appointment for three years, which became effective from 30th July 2010.
The UK AEA is a non-departmental public body within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The non-executive position will entail two days’ work each month, for which Cashmore will be paid £25,000 per annum.
Of Cashmore’s appointment at the UK AEA, a spokesperson from the University Press Office said, “College heads are employees of the college so university regulations would not apply. However, there are University rules on consultancy-type work which colleges tend to subscribe to.
“Many senior officers and academics take on some limited work such as academic consultancy alongside their full time positions. This is permitted up to a certain limit under University rules.”
In addition to his new post at the AEA, Cashmore is the Chair of the Nuclear Research Advisory Council of the Ministry of Defence, which is a public appointment with an annual remuneration of £315 per day.