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Home » List of factual inaccuracies in the article by Daniella White for the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 April 2024

List of factual inaccuracies in the article by Daniella White for the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 April 2024

The article fails to make it clear that it is citing allegations that are presented by management in its defence in the absence of evidence. The false claims by management are rejected categorically. They also require a comment as they may otherwise mislead the public.


“A senior brain researcher who accused a Sydney University academic of attempting to bribe and blackmail another staff member is suing”

This is not true. It was a manager and it was not my claim. I reported the alleged serious criminal actions by the high-ranking manager (a head of school) as was my duty. The bribery and blackmail claim was made by a colleague who approached me and two other senior professors, who also testified to audit about it, with this information as detailed here. What I did was to take the matter forward in my official role as President of the University of Sydney Association of Professors (USAP) and as I was duty-bound to do so as an employee of the University: I had absolutely no choice but to file a public interest disclosure (PID) about the alleged serious criminal management activity which is totally unacceptable in an academic environment. And, of course, I would do it again.

Report to the newly appointed VC Mark Scott about the management problems at the University of Sydney 18 November 2021

Audit results contradicted by the evidence

Letter to VC Mark Scott 04 June 23

The Review Committee held on 17 October 2023 was a farce

I am suing because I have been unlawfully dismissed based on fabricated misconduct cases for having made a public interest disclosure: only three days after the PID had been officially recognised I was served with the first fabricated misconduct case. Since the whistleblowing legislation has been repeatedly violated and audit failed I have asked the current management’s practices to be investigated by the police.

I am also using this platform to inform the general public regarding the state of affairs at our “managerialized” university. The current emphasis on maximising international student revenue is detrimental to higher education and poses a significant threat to democracy. This management strategy disregards essential academic values and principles. Nobody wants to prevent income from business but the societal value of higher education as a common good (not a commodity) needs to be respected. Also see Manifesto for the Reform of Public Universities in Australia

There is no doubt in my mind that my treatment by the current management is intended to prevent others from coming forward.

It was internal audit not me who confirmed that the allegations I reported met the threshold of a PID.

“This included him refusing to meet his academic supervisor to discuss his performance and failing to turn up for teaching allocation or communicate his reasons for doing so.”

This is all entirely misleading or untrue. I was under no obligation to meet with line management that had an insurmountable conflict of interest and I pointed out to management on numerous occasions that its directive to teach the course in question was both unreasonable and unlawful given my contract and existing written agreements. Some management statements couldn’t be made up.

Furthermore, I did not have an agreed supervisor at the time and I had advised management repeatedly that I would not teach the course they had allocated to me without previous consultation since it was outside my field of expertise. A highly qualified retired Professor offered to teach the course instead but management did not allow it. Furthermore, the management direction was not only unreasonable but also unlawful given my research only contract.

“I also do not accept you as my line manager. A full professor does not have a line manager at any international university,” one email he wrote to his supervisor read.”

The academic supervisor was never agreed. Moreover, authority cannot substitute for expertise. I have not seen a comparable arrangement of having so many non-scholars in high management positions at either Harvard or Imperial College or other institutions where I have worked.

“Please stop writing to me. I do not wish to have any more contact with you.”

Following years of harassment and ongoing contract violations I had enough of the abuse.

“He was also accused of setting up surveillance devices in his office since at least May 2, 2023, despite being warned his previous use of a surveillance camera constituted misconduct.”

This is absolutely untrue. There was never another security device as falsely claimed by management in the absence of any evidence.

“The applicant was aware (or ought to be aware) that the use of a surveillance camera device may be a criminal office,” it read.”

This is completely absurd. There was never any potential for a criminal offence in this case. My office was locked and not shared with anyone. No cleaners were allowed.

I never had a surveillance camera installed. It was a motion-triggered security camera, positioned inside my locked office which was switched on when I was not there. The security camera was there to protect world medical heritage material including the original brain samples of the first Alzheimer cases of which I am the custodian. My office was freely accessible from the lifts and the cleaners had frequently left the door unlocked. There was no better way to protect not only the unique material and my own name but also that of our university. Management removed the security camera which was essential for the protection of the historical material against my written advice after it had accidentally recorded management misconduct (a serious breach of trust) as described in my first PID and this privately funded security camera has not been returned by management until this day. There was never another security device as falsely claimed by management in the absence of any evidence.

Importantly, I upgraded my office’s security following a directive from the Executive Officer to do what was necessary to protect one’s belongings following a series of thefts.

“making multiple comments he knew to be false, including statements that had the potential to damage the reputation of others.”

Such defamatory statements made by management will be followed up separately.

“This included emails sent to deputy vice chancellor Annamarie Jagose, and copied in a large number of others, in which he said she was attempting to “evict a biomedical researcher” after being told he could no longer use his office on level seven of the Brain and Mind Centre.”

My team’s space was removed as per Provost Jagose’s order, not only one office, and essential medical research material moved out of the lab area into office storage although federally funded research was ongoing. My wet lab team’s work was stopped as a consequence. Management had initially copied a large number of colleagues in on the email announcing my team’s eviction from our purpose-built floor. $3 million of taxpayers’ money were used to built our floor for brain tumour research and it is named accordingly but the vast majority of this space was not used by management as promised to the donors but for totally unrelated purposes including private company work.

The apparent abuse of public money by management needs to be investigated in my view. This does not only include the above case but also the use of public money to provide management with effectively unlimited funds to pay for legal fees to cover its own wrongdoing and to wear down whistleblowers, money one should add that is meant to be spent on research and teaching.

“Moving or disposal of items would cause irreparable scientific damage and would also breach existing ethics and data protection regulations”

This is correct and requires a follow-up because regulations have been breached by management.

My research environment was systematically dismantled. Several of my students were unfairly terminated. No student should experience this. My students were absolutely innocent by-standers (1, 2). I have written to the education minister about their treatment and I will follow up with TEQSA as suggested by his office. What truly shocked us was how openly within the Medical Faculty the termination of one student was premeditated and that there was an apparent attempt to hide the management misconduct on top: the student never withdrew and I can confirm that. The student must be reinstated and the responsible managers need to be held to account. Furthermore, after I had flagged up the targeting of my students by management (e.g., 1, 2), I was suspended as a supervisor in response. What makes management’s lies especially remarkable in this case is the fact that the two students mentioned in the letter who “are at risk of termination of candidature” had already been unfairly terminated by management months earlier. Thus, even those basic facts were not honoured. Moreover, ethics applications were blocked or delayed and the students were the ones who had to bear the brunt of the damage because their projects were delayed and even terminated.

Regarding other claims in the article, management has submitted a large number of falsehoods to the court that will be discussed there.

Notably, it was not “colleagues” involved moving me off the floor that had been built for my research field but it was Provost Annamarie Jagose’s decision. My team’s space was removed although federally funded research was ongoing. The decision was her responsibility alone.