Professor Joost Herman appeals his dismissal
Last week, the judge decided that the UG’s dismissal of Herman was justified. ‘We feel the judge’s conclusions are short-sighted’, says Herman’s lawyer Ageeth Kootstra.
‘We disagree with most of the verdict. I put up an extensive defence, addressing several things, including the fact that he became ill because of his work’, says Kootstra. ‘But I also said that he didn’t have insight into the complete case, which is needed to put up a complete defence. The judge completely ignored that.’
Herman was fired in January of this year for subsidies fraud and falsification of documents. The university also started a civil procedure against him, demanding he pay the institute nearly 1.2 million euros.
Herman is alleged to have used the private foundation Stichting NOHA Groningen (SNG) to gain access to European subsidies that were intended to go to the Groningen NOHA programme. The UG says the foundation was set up without its knowledge and therefore the funds were used outside the university’s purview.
The UG says this enabled Herman to expense ‘large amounts’ of money and give this to other employees and third parties.
The judge’s verdict
Because Herman controlled the European subsidies through SNG, he took that control away from the UG, the judge said last week.
This way, Herman made it impossible for the UG to decide how to spend the funds. These actions were ‘reprehensible’ and made Herman ‘culpable’. The fact that he didn’t intend to profit off his actions or harm the UG doesn’t change the fact of the matter, the judge said.
‘The judge said that Herman fell victim to his own single-mindedness’, says Kootstra. ‘She doesn’t draw any clear conclusions, though. There’s no reasoning for why his actions were so reprehensible. Why is it so serious? There are still quite a few questions that need answers.’