Former lawyer turned lecturer will now no longer serve as college registrar

New College Lanarkshire has been forced to withdraw a top appointment after key details emerged about the appointee.

New College Lanarkshire

The senior post of college registrar was handed to an existing member of staff on the Motherwell Campus, law lecturer Ciaran O'Neill.

But the college is now re-advertising this key role.

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The matter came to light when a source contacted the Motherwell Times regarding the circumstances under which Mr O'Neill chose to stop practising law and turned to teaching.

New College Lanarkshire

Mr O'Neill was implicated while working in the law firm McConville O'Neill when the company urged the families of miners to apply for compensation but went incommunicado as clients faced long waits for the cash.

Although Mr O'Neill did not fall under any of the same restrictions his late business partner did as a result of this, the Law Society of Scotland stated that he had provided "inadequate professional service”.

The source told us: "Given this it is a strange decision to promote a person from a lecturing post to one carrying heavy legal responsibilities."

The compensation case was connected to former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie who had fought for the families involved as their MP.

He told us: "My constituents were let down badly by this law firm.

"If Mr O’Neill has learnt from his mistakes, I’d be the last person to deny him a chance of a new career.

"But I hope the college has asked all the right questions about this episode in his past.”

When we asked the college for comment after flagging up this situation, it emerged a day later that Mr O’Neill would not be the college’s new registrar and that the post would be re-advertised.

A spokeswoman at the college said “This particular appointment will not proceed. This was a mutual decision.

"Mr O’Neill will remain in his current position, a post in which he has been highly effective over the past six years.

"The College has the utmost confidence Mr O’Neill will continue to carry out his duties as a lecturer to the highest professional standards.”

We then asked if Mr O’Neill had given the college full disclosure.

We were told: "We were unaware of the full details of this historic matter."