The deputy vice-chancellor of research and internationalisation, Ronald MacDonald, said yesterday that he had originally believed the plagiarism claims by Ian Firns. Mr Firns had written to him in late February 2003 protesting at the handling of the matter.
In an email, Mr Firns wrote that “it is particularly galling to know that the top mark for this assignment was awarded to an identified cheat”.
However, Professor MacDonald said that he had changed his opinion shortly afterwards, and accepted Dr Ryder’s view that Mr Firns was making exaggerated accusations out of “spite”. He held that view despite the lecturer having provided specific web addresses for the sites from which students had lifted slabs of material.
Professor MacDonald said it would have been beyond his capacity to judge the plagiarism allegations for himself, because the essays were to do with business. “I’m a physicist.”
Of course, that’s not even faintly plausible. He should have said: “I’m an administrator”.