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EXCLUSIVE: £298k-a-year Dundee University principal suspended for allegedly not paying rent

Professor Andrew Atherton.
Professor Andrew Atherton.

The principal of Dundee University has been suspended for alleged non-payment of rent, just 10 months after taking up his £300,000-a -year role.

Professor Andrew Atherton also picked up a £40,000 “disruption allowance” to help him move to Dundee from Lancaster University to take up the job of principal and vice-chancellor on January 1.

But The Courier can reveal he was suspended in September for allegedly failing to pay rent on accommodation provided to him by the university.

It is understood Professor Atherton, 53, had been staying at University House on Perth Road but had refused to pay the full amount of rent due on the property.

An independent inquiry is currently underway.

It is not known if he will be returning as principal or if the university will be able to reclaim any of allowance paid to help him complete the 230-mile move from Lancaster to Dundee.

Professor Atherton was named as the successor of Professor Sir Pete Downes in July last year.

He was appointed with a remuneration package worth £298,000; a base salary of £250,000 plus £48,000 of pension contributions.

The first £8,000 of the £40,000 paid to help him relocate was tax-free, in line with HMRC rules.

The university’s standard relocation package is one month’s gross salary but more can be paid in exceptional circumstances.

Dundee gained university status in 1967 and Professor Atherton is only its seventh principal since then.

His predecessor, Professor Sir Pete Downes, held the role for nine years before retiring at the end of 2018.

Professor Atherton was formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Enterprise at Lancaster University.

Before joining Lancaster in 2013, Professor Atherton was senior deputy Vice-Chancellor at Lincoln University.

Previously he worked at Durham University.

A spokesman for Dundee University confirmed the suspension on Wednesday.

He said: “Professor Atherton, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, was suspended from office on September 13, pending an investigation which remains to be completed.

“That process includes an investigation carried out by someone external to the University.

“As is our policy in any disciplinary case, it would not be appropriate for the University to comment further while the process is ongoing.”

Professor Atherton was approached for comment.


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