22/3-11 14:14

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen off the hook

Nils and Jasper at press conference
Photo: Mike Young
Nils Strandberg Pedersen (left), and communications head Jasper Steen Winkel (front) field questions at the press conference
University of Copenhagen management did nothing that was not in line with standard procedure, says Board chairman

The path of the righteous is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. So the famous biblical passage.

According to the just released report from the legal counsel of the Danish government ‘Kammeradvokaten’, Rector Ralf Hemmingsen and his colleagues had found that straight and narrow path.

»Neither Rector nor other employees of the University of Copenhagen have given undue favour to Penkowa. The Kammeradvokaten lawyers conclude that no nepotism has been involved,« Nils Strandberg Pedersen said at the press conference today.

The 'Kammeradvokaten' report is in Danish here.

Rector judged the case correctly

He and Head of Communications Jasper Steen Winkel fielded questions from a packed crowd of writing and broadcasting journalists.

Kammeradvokaten finds no evidence that University Management »carried out an unreasonable administration« of the case.

»The Board maintains its full trust in Rector. He has judged the case correctly, with the knowledge that was available to him,« Nils Strandberg Pedersen said.

Student treatment a mistake

Rector had not taken written notes of a claimed call to a Spanish company he made to check the veracity of Milena Penkowa's laboratory rat experiments. But the fact that no notes were taken is in itself an object of criticism, but nothing further, Nils Strandberg Pedersen said.

If there is any valid criticism of University of Copenhagen management, it is the appointment of Penkowa to the Elite Researcher prize. »This was a mistake,« he says.

Another big mistake was the treatment of the student assistant of Milena Penkowa, Kristian Kolind whose warnings were not heeded in a timely manner, allowing the University of Copenhagen to continue its promotion and support of Penkowa.

Read article: No notes from call to Spanish company here.

Believes Rector will take action himself

It is precisely the student assistant’s plight that is apologised for, in the press release from the Board of Executives.

Kammeradvokaten’s lawyer says that »the University’s routines and preparedness needs to be improved, in documenting cases and in the legal position of students,« as quoted in the Board’s release.

This said, the Board has taken Rector’s recent apology for the treatment of the student into account. The Board »believes that he will take action in these cases«.

Unlikely to stifle criticism

The release of the report, and the Board's subsequent acquittal of Rector is not deemed likely to stifle criticism. Hundreds of scientists have called for an impartial investigation into the case up and above the 'Kammeradvokaten' inquiry. This call was reiterated in statements by scientists quoted after the Board's press release.

Criticism of management at the University of Copenhagen has not only focussed on the administrative handling of the affair: The case of the falsely-accused student assistant, for example, had earlier set off a chorus of criticism of top management for not heeding warnings.


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