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Principal ignores calls to resign

THE principal of St Austell College in Cornwall is resisting calls for his resignation after a no confidence vote by staff.

The secret ballot at the college was held after principal William Hill was criticised in the Newby report for his handling of an allegation of serious sexual assault by one member of staff against another.

Ministers asked Professor Howard Newby, Southampton University vice-chancellor, to look into claims that the college mishandled the investigation.

The report said Mr Hill had been "increasingly partisan" and had denied "natural justice" to the accused lecturer, Keith Tregenna, who was suspended but won on appeal Governors backed the principal this week. Alan Longden, chair of the governing body, said: "The staff chose to hold a ballot and I was duly informed. But it will not bear any influence on our relationship with Mr Hill."

Mr Hill defended himself on local radio, dismissing the Newby findings as "the opinion of one man". He told union officials that faced with the same situation he would react in exactly the same way. Department for Education and Employment officials have demanded a transcript of the radio interview.

Mr Hill told The TES: "The governors and I don't intend to take any notice whatsoever of the ballot result. Some of the legal conclusions made by Mr Newby were seriously flawed. Every principal in the country could find themselves wished out of office by staff but we are the ones who have to take unpopular decisions and so it is us that take the flak."

Matthew Taylor, Liberal Democrat MP for Truro and St Austell, said: "It is vital that the governors and the principal accept that there was serious mismanagement in the handling of the case as highlighted in the Newby report. "

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