DEMANDS by Education Secretary Michael Russell for the resignation of a college chairman who secretly recorded a meeting with him have come under attack from a key sector figure.

Ian Graham, the former principal of John Wheatley College in Glasgow, said the politician's actions were astonishing adding that the wider reform of the college sector was being undertaken without proper consultation.

The attack comes after Kirk Ramsay, the former chairman of Stow College in Glasgow, stepped down this week accusing Mr Russell of an "abuse of power".

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It followed a row over the college chief's decision to make an audio recording of a meeting with Mr Russell and 80 college officials using a smartpen.

When Mr Russell heard about the recording he summoned Mr Ramsay to a meeting in the Scottish Parliament and told him he expected him to resign. Mr Ramsay did so a week later after fearing repercussions for Stow College.

In a letter to The Herald, Mr Graham said the row was like a "playground dispute" between eight-year-olds.

"Both men have demonstrated a worrying lack of judgment. While Mr Ramsay's recording of the Cabinet Secretary's speech on October 1 was not illegal, it was inadvisable and ill-mannered. Mr Russell's over-reaction in demanding Mr Ramsay's resignation is astonishing.

"As a former senior manager in a college, I can confirm that Mr Russell has consistently claimed that colleges support his reforms and that their implementation is evidence of genuine partnership between the sector and himself. However, fear of more draconian measures underpins an apparent consensus.

"Mr Russell has not produced any evidence that his proposed reforms will bring about the savings he requires.

"Mr Salmond must also make plain immediately that such approaches to public policy development are not those which we should expect from any of his ministers, now or in the future."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government has protected places for students and has undertaken reforms in a college sector that has been neglected over a number of years to ensure it is delivering for both the economy and the learners who attend the courses it offers."