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Kent launches legal bid over head's defection

The Kent Institute of Art and Design (KIAD) has started legal proceedings against Don Gray and the University of Kent over the ongoing crisis at the Canterbury School of Architecture.

Lawyers have instigated a civil action on behalf of the institute after the university headhunted Gray, its head of architecture, to set up a new school (AJ 7.4.05).

KIAD's acting director, David Buss, said that senior management was astonished when 'Gray announced that he was leaving just before the most important term of the year'.

Differing claims remain over whether Gray had intended to see out his notice period - which would have seen him work up to the end of the year - or whether KIAD forced him to leave immediately.

But Buss - who has internally appointed further-education specialist David Hayward as acting head of the architecture school - said Gray's decision to join the university had left the school with serious problems.

'This development was sprung on us out of the blue, with no warning, in the middle of March, and it has caused an enormous amount of concern in the student body, ' he said.

'Obviously I'm not going to expand on the legal action we're taking, except to say that, having taken a lot of legal advice, we believe we have the evidence. Our priority now, though, is to concentrate on providing architectural and interiors education for the students who have been left at the school, ' Buss added.

Meanwhile, there is still uncertainty over the ARB's prescription of the school. Confusion worsened this week after it emerged that KIAD's prescription is already obtained through the University of Kent, because KIAD itself is not a university.

The ARB's head of education, Jon Levett, told the AJ the 'situation is certainly very difficult' for students in the middle of Parts I and II.

'The situation for the rest of the year is clear; prescription will remain at KIAD's Canterbury School of Architecture. But what happens next is not at all clear, ' he said.

'The information that we have received is that KIAD is committed to continuing the provision of architectural education and is determined to replace the members of staff it has lost.

'But both KIAD and the university will have to submit information and we will then attempt to come to an agreement on participation, ' Levett added.

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