No evidence found of cheating

7th June 1996 at 01:00
The article "The gag can still be applied" (TES, May 31) states that Minya Laher, a senior lecturer at Westminster College, complained about marking standards of students' work and as a result was sacked. This is completely incorrect.

Mr Laher wrote to the Business and Technology Education Council accusing his colleagues of "condoning cheating", a far more serious charge. The letter was copied to me but not his colleagues. I immediately set up an investigation with an external investigator, an inspector from the borough of Wandsworth. He held individual interviews with nearly 50 staff, including two with Mr Laher. No evidence whatsoever was provided to back Mr Laher's allegation. As a result, Mr Laher faced a disciplinary panel on a charge of gross misconduct based on bringing the college into disrepute. Had he produced any evidence to back his allegation, any staff concerned would have been disciplined and he would not have been dismissed.

Sir Ashley Bramall is an experienced barrister and there was no bar on his being a member of the disciplinary committee. It did mean he could not be a member of the appeals committee, so there was no conflict of interest.

Mr Laher has frequently written to BTEC, the Department for Education and Employment, and newspapers and no action was ever taken against him. However, it is completely invidious to make public accusations of gross professional misconduct in condoning cheating against colleagues without any evidence to back them, and assume that this is the "whistle-blowing" meant by Lord Nolan.

It is a great pity that The TES did not consult the college as to whether the statements made about the college in the article were factually correct.

CAROL BURGESS Principal and chief executive Westminster College Battersea Park Road, London SW11

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