The former principal of Aberdeen University is being asked to repay £119,000 of a pay-off he received when he left his post.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond announced his plans to retire in August 2017, but only triggered the 12-month notice period in July 2018 – the same month he officially stepped down from the role.
Questions were raised as to whether he was entitled to receive money the university paid to him – and whether the university carried out the checks it should have in ensuring the right amount of money was paid.
The Scottish Funding Council (SFC), which carried out a review in relation to his departure from the university, later said the university must pay back a £119,000 grant to the SFC in respect of the payment given to Sir Ian.
It was paid back in February.
The SFC previously said: “We decided to review the payment made to the former principal of the University of Aberdeen because the financial statements did not appear to accord with our understanding of the principal’s retirement and we were not satisfied with the university’s response to our initial inquiries.
“The former principal’s total remuneration disclosed in the financial statements for 2017-18 was £601,000. In addition, a payment of £60,000 was made in relation to the former principal, for ‘outplacement support’.”
Sir Ian, who is now the head of the Office for National Statistics, is now being asked to return £119,000 to Aberdeen University.
A working group set up the university’s governing body recommended asking Sir Ian for the money.
Esther Roberton, senior governor at Aberdeen University, said: “Following publication of the Scottish Funding Council’s review into the payment made to the university’s former principal, a small internal working group was formed to undertake a review and address findings of that report.
“Court – the university’s governing body – met yesterday and considered the working group’s report. A series of actions to be taken by the university in response to the SFC report, around responsibilities, guidelines and governance procedures, were approved.
“Court also resolved that as the SFC had required the university to repay a proportion of its grant in respect of the settlement made to the former principal, we should invite him to consider a repayment of the same amount to the university. The university repaid £119,000 to the SFC in February.
“Decisions reported on in the SFC review were taken three years ago. Now the university has new leadership and is progressing with a new strategic vision.”
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “When the university repaid £119,000 to the SFC following the review it effectively meant that it was the staff and students that were paying for the mistakes made by the previous leadership.
“It’s entirely reasonable therefore that the university under new leadership is attempting to recoup the money from the former principal. I hope Sir Ian will agree that the staff and students at Aberdeen University should not lose out.”