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Anger after college chiefs depart with nearly £500,000

TWO senior members of staff from a college in one of the most deprived parts of Scotland have shared a ­severance package of nearly £500,000, prompting anger from lecturers.

Ronnie Knox, the former principal of North Glasgow College, and John Gray, his vice-principal, received £471,000 of public money between them under the deal, which followed the college's merger with two other institutions. Mr Knox, who received a salary of about £120,000, was given a payout of more than £310,000, while Mr Gray, who earned £80,000, received more than £160,000.

A report into the payments by Audit Scotland has also raised the issue of transparency over the way the payments were sanctioned, stating there was no evidence they were subjected to "appropriate approval" or assessed as providing value for money.

Caroline Gardner, the Auditor General for Scotland, stressed to a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's Audit Committee, which has discussed the issue, that there was no evidence the payments were wrongly calculated, illegal or fraudulent.

But she told MSPs: "The report is here because I believe that, where public money is involved, it is very important that there is a fair, open and transparent process to ensure that ­decisions are made properly and ­represent value for money, and that they are properly scrutinised and ­challenged by those who have ­governance responsibilities."

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland said: "While we do not comment on the detail of ­individual cases, there will clearly be significant concern when substantial financial settlements are awarded to senior staff without an appropriate level of transparency."

However, Mr Knox said yesterday: "The way the payments were sanctioned and the amount that was agreed on was nothing to do with me."

Mr Gray could not be contacted for comment.

A spokesman for the Scottish ­Funding Council said colleges made their own decisions about staff matters.

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