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College tries to avoid paying damages

A COLLEGE has been forced to pay full damages to a wrongly sacked lecturer after it tried to deduct money it claimed he owed them.

Grimsby college was told in May to pay pound;3,062 to Alan Cowood after wrongly dismissing him for going public in FE Focus with his concerns about its finances.

Mr Cowood was sacked for writing a letter which revealed Grimsby was one of a number of colleges being investigated by the Learning and Skills Council for alleged financial irregularities. It was later exonerated.

The college sent him a cheque for pound;752 in "full and final settlement", claiming he still owes it pound;2,310 as a result of being suspended for two months.

In a letter sent with the pound;752 cheque, Peter Barnard, associate principal, wrote: "At the date of termination of your employment (June 13, 2002) you still owed the college pound;2,310 which was for the outstanding amount of your two months' suspension without pay during 2002, the effect of which was spread over a 12-month period starting in March 2002."

Mr Cowood says he took no action over this suspension because his union, Natfhe, had decided that it was best to focus on the dismissal relating to the FE Focus letter.

But Mr Cowood insists that the college did not have grounds to suspend him and cannot enforce the pound;2,310 payment. He lodged a claim for the remainder of the pound;3,062, and the college backed down when this was served by Great Grimsby County Court on Tuesday.

Still awaiting his cheque, Mr Cowood, who is now a long-distance lorry driver, said: "The college owes me the money in full. There is no going back.

"It was the final decision of the tribunal and I can't understand why they would try and settle in this way after the case has finished. If they don't pay, the bailiffs will be round."

When FE Focus contacted the college, a spokeswoman said: "The cheque should go out in the next post today.

"The college has now paid Mr Cowood the outstanding amount and is seeking restitution of monies due to them."

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