King’s spent £250,000 in legal battle to keep staff salaries secret

Think how many tuition fees that could have paid for

King’s College London ran up astronomical legal fees totalling £250,000 in an attempt to prevent the salaries of its high-earning administration staff and senior professors being made public.

According to Times Higher Education, King’s were initially called upon to disclose the salaries of any and all staff earning more than £100,000 a year by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2013, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

They don't want you to know how much they're paying people

They don’t want you to know how much they’re paying people

Despite successfully overturning the ruling in July 2014, on the grounds of “a real and significant risk of prejudice to its commercial interests,” appeal court judge Anisa Dhanji said not all staff should be exempt from the request.

Indeed last month, eight of King’s highest earners had their salaries made public; among them the head of administration and the college secretary, who ranked as the most handsomely payed among them, earning between £180,000 and £190,000 a year.

Calculations show that when you factor in the £150,307 paid to solicitors Mils & Reeve, the £53,175 paid to Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, the £4,642 expenses and the VAT payment, the three-year legal battle cost KCL roughly £250,000.

A King’s spokesperson said the university had: “pursued the appeal process over the last three years to protect the rights of our staff.” To that end, the identities of the remaining 260 staff members at King’s earning over £100,000 annually have remained undisclosed, prompting the spokesperson’s assessment of the expenditure as “partially successful”.

She continued to say: “Vice-chancellors’ salaries are published in the annual financial accounts, and they are aware of this when they accept the position, but it hasn’t been the norm for universities to disclose the salaries of other senior staff.

“Salaries are personal information and can be commercially sensitive.”