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Exit director, pursued by recruitment row

Liberal Democrats in Newcastle are boycotting the appointment of a new director of education because of a row over the former director's resignation and claims that the post has not been properly advertised.

The city council is still reeling from the recent departure of Nils Purser, after a vote of no confidence by primary heads last month led to an inquiry. Proposals for a major restructuring of the education department have just been issued and the director's post has been advertised internally.

The Liberal Democrats believe that the new director has already been earmarked and are refusing to sit on the appointment panel unless the job is advertised nationally.

Meanwhile, Gerry Keating, Liberal Democrat councillor on the education committee, has championed the former director, believing he was made a scapegoat for 21 years of failing Labour education policies. He said: "The inquiry completely exonerated Mr Purser, and besides he was just implementing the decisions made by the education committee. There is a mammoth row over his resignation."

Education committee chairman Darren Murphy would not comment on the resignation but said: "It is a complicated situation. Technically (Mr Purser) accepted voluntary redundancy to assist the re-structuring process."

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