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Galway university professor challenges claims he bullied a colleague in the High Court

Professor Heinz Peter Nasheuer has alleged that the investigation into claims he tried to sabotage a colleague’s career is ‘flawed’.

HC W Murphy 3 Source: Flickr/William Murphy

A SENIOR ACADEMIC at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) has brought a High Court challenge over what he says is a flawed investigation into claims he tried to sabotage a colleague’s career.

The action has been brought by Heinz Peter Nasheuer who is a professor of biochemistry at the University.

Professor Nasheuer is one of nine individuals who are the subjects of complaints of alleged bullying made by a colleague at NUIG. He categorically denies the allegations, which date back several years, against him.

Arising out of the complaints the Labour Court appointed former trade unionist Janet Hughes to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations.

However Nasheuer says the investigation is flawed and should not be allowed to continue on a number of grounds including that Hughes had previously represented the complainant in an unrelated matter during the 1990s.

In proceedings that commenced before the High Court today Nasheuer seeks various injunctions against the NUIG including one halting the investigation on the grounds that it is oppressive and unreasonable.

He seeks to have the injunctions kept in place until the case has been fully determined by the High Court.

NUIG, represented by John O’Donnell SC, opposes the application and rejects claims that the process is flawed or that it should be halted. It says that the process is an investigation only and is not a disciplinary hearing.

Investigation

O Donnell said it could well be the case that nothing adverse to the professor will come out of the process. He said NUIG also denies the investigation has in any way breached Nasheuer’s rights including his rights to fair procedure.

Mark Connaughton SC, appearing with barrister Mairead McKenna for Nasheuer, told the court his client had worked with NUIG since 2003 and was “completely shocked” when the allegations were first put to him by the university.

The bullying allegations, which counsel said are all denied, were quite serious. The complainant had accused his client of trying “to sabotage” that person’s career.

Hughes, counsel said, had represented the complainant in her capacity as a trade union official during the 1990s.

Connaughton said that during the course of the investigation his client discovered Hughes had disclosed this fact to the complainant, the Labour Court and to NUIG, but had failed to do so to Nasheuer until after the process had begun.

He said that another reason why the investigation was flawed was that Hughes had consulted with the complainant and NUIG, but not with the Professor and his advisers, about the terms of reference of the investigation into the allegations.

These matters had led to fears that the investigation was biased against Nasheuer.

Connaughton said that a further complaint alleged Nasheuer at one stage of the process was wrongly accused of not co-operating with the process.

This had not been the case.

Arising out of these concerns they had asked that the investigation be halted and the failure to do so had resulted in the professor bringing proceedings before the High Court.

The hearing before Justice Marie Baker has been adjourned and will recommence later this month.

Comments are closed as the case is before the courts

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Aodhan O Faolain

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