A British vice-chancellor’s lucrative technical consultancy work helped spark the corruption row that led to the resignation of the entire European Commission this week.
According to the damning report into the workings of the Commission, published on Monday, Sir Geoffrey Holland of Exeter University was paid ‘unacceptably high daily fees of £1,875’ for ‘expertise and networking knowhow to the Leonardo da Vinci programme’.
This is the EU’s much-criticised vocational training scheme to promote innovation and work-based training. It has a budget of £435m and has been the focus of allegations of serious irregularities.
According to the report, the Commission gave no formal authorisation for the services of Exeter University or the professor, who ‘apparently did not produce any scientific services which could justify the considerable fee of over £40,000 a year paid to the University’.
Exeter University denied any wrongdoing, saying: ‘The university has done exactly what it was commissioned to do at the price which was agreed.’
The report concludes: ‘The Leonardo Da Vinci file raises significant questions with respect to the functioning of the services of the Commission.’