Former Murdoch University Vice-Chancellor Richard Higgott viewed adult material on his work laptop and had complaints made against him just six months into the job, according to a recently released report.
The Corruption and Crime Commission have been looking into alleged misconduct by the former Vice-Chancellor and his closest members of staff since October 2014.
“This account is how Professor Higgott, when Vice-Chancellor, did not live up to that trust. He seriously breached Murdoch’s policies,” the report said.
Other matters included in the report were Higgott alleged misuse of his corporate credit card and possible destruction of key documents relevant to the investigation.
The report called the University’s control of credit cards ‘lax’ and said Murdoch did not follow its documentation retention policy.
“It is not now possible to form an opinion whether the destruction of certain documents was deliberate to thwart an investigation or unintentional inadvertence,” the CCC said in the report.
The CCC also describe deceptive means Higgott used to employ Deputy Vice Chancellor Ann Capling, who also stood down immediately after the investigation began.
Professor Higgott is said to have not fully disclosed his close personal relationship with Ann Capling, saying that he had a ‘professional association at arm’s length’ and used ‘secret communications’ with Professor Capling.
The report noted that Higgott and Capling had collaborated on academic projects over the past 20 years.
During the investigation Higgott described their email contact as “friendly”, “facetious”, “gossipy and chatty.”
Capling left her job at the University of Melbourne to take up the position at Murdoch University.
Murdoch University issued a statement that while misconduct is rare, they take this situation extremely seriously.
“We do not tolerate poor behaviour by any employee of the University. We live by our values of integrity, respect and professional conduct.”
It is understood the CCC waited until Murdoch University had appointed a new Vice Chancellor due to the sensitivity of the results.
More to come.