USS whistleblower fired

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) whistleblower Jane Hutton has been fired from her role as non-executive director of the scheme’s trustee board.

In March 2018, Hutton raised concerns with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) that her efforts to find out whether the USS deficit was exaggerated were blocked.

In a unanimous decision, the board decided to terminate Hutton’s position as she breached “her duties as a director under company law and contract”.

Her firing follows a “thorough and independent” external investigation, which was conducted by law firm Slaughter and May.

USS said that the details of the investigation are confidential and therefore it “cannot discuss them in any further detail”.

During the investigation, Slaughter and May conducted interviews with relevant individuals, including Hutton, and found that her conduct has breached her director’s duties.

All USS directors were offered access to the full report if they agreed to confidentiality restrictions.

The University and College Union (UCU) was also offered to review the report and was invited to make representations to the board about the potential firing.

It neither took up the opportunity to review the report or make representations to the board about the report’s findings.

The union expressed its concerns about how the process to fire Hutton was conducted.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "We are extremely disappointed at the decision by USS to remove Jane Hutton from the board. Jane deserves the support of all USS members for the stand that she has taken. "

Slaughter and May also made recommendations concerning potential improvements to policies and procedures, which the board is “actively considering”.

In May, TPR said that it was investigating the whistleblower claims.

The regulator was criticised by Work and Pensions Select Committee chair Frank Field for the way it dealt with Hutton’s concerns, as they took more than a year to respond to her claims.

USS said that it was not making any further comment at this time.

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