A single email has cost the University of Salford £110,000 after it alleged fraud in an expenses claim.
Dr Tom McMaster, a lecturer in business management at Salford University, submitted an expense claim of £180 after receiving permission to sail his boat to a conference in Galway rather than fly.
However, after submitting his claim he received a response from the accounts department:
"Clearly the original claim was an attempted fraud and appropriately rejected.”
"Those who submitted and certified it should be ashamed of themselves."
However, the email was also sent to other members of his department and as a result constituted libel.
McMaster took the case to the High Court to clear his name. After failing to have the case dismissed, the university settled out of court for £10,000 but will have to pay up to £100,000 in costs.
A spokeswoman for Salford University said: "The university has reached a settlement with Dr McMaster and we cannot comment on any outstanding grievance issues concerning him."
The case highlights the importance of following correct email procedure and the vulnerability of organisations to action if it is not followed.
Had the email been sent solely to Dr. McMaster there would have been no case to answer, but by distributing it to others the organisation opened itself up to libel action.
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