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Procedural issues: Prima facie review - PI011511

King’s College London

A student at King’s College London brought a complex complaint after being investigated for suspected manipulation of research data. We found that the panel that had first investigated the allegations had gone beyond its remit.

The panel’s role was to clarify the allegations, determine that these had been made in good faith and decide whether there were prima facie grounds to refer the case to a disciplinary committee. The panel went beyond this in considering a written statement from the student in which he disputed the allegations, in meeting with the student and in arranging for IT systems to be examined forensically.

The panel took several months to reach what should have been a relatively straightforward decision that a prima facie case existed. This contributed to delays which led us to award financial compensation to the student. We also recommended that the college should review its procedure for investigating and resolving allegations of research misconduct to ensure that the initial Panel investigation does not go beyond prima facie consideration. The overall complaint was found Partly Justified.