The vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire says the decision to promote his lover, dance professor Helen Bailey, took place before the relationship started.
Bill Rammell, a former Labour minister, took over the top job at the university, which has bases in Luton, Bedford and Milton Keynes, in August 2012.
Professor of dance, Helen Bailey, took over the senior role of interim executive dean of partnerships in June 2013.
A statement from the University of Bedfordshire confirmed that Mr Rammell was involved in the decision to appoint Professor Bailey to the role of acting dean of partnerships. But the university says the decision was “as part of a panel of five senior colleagues in accordance with normal university procedure” and it added the decision “pre-dated the start of the relationship.”
The statement added that Mr Rammell and Professor Bailey notified the board of governors of their relationship, in accordance with the university’s human resources policy.
The chairman of the university’s board of governors, Alan Cook, in a statement issued yesterday, gave Mr Rammell his “whole-hearted support”.
He said: “Both the vice chancellor and executive dean have acted with professionalism and integrity. They alerted the board at the earliest opportunity and they are both assured of our whole-hearted support.”
The university says Professor Bailey, in her role as interim executive dean of partnerships, “will move to report to the university’s deputy vice chancellor. She has also stepped down as a staff governor to avoid any potential conflict of interest.”