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NUS president to remain in office following legal advice

Tom Joyner reports

The President of the embattled National Union of Students (NUS), Sinéad Colee, will remain in her role after legal advice sought by the organisation found no grounds for her removal.

Colee’s position was threatened after she allegedly neglected to submit a single President’s report for the first three months of her year-long term, prompting the organisation’s general secretary to seek counsel from law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

However, the advice found that although it was “uncontroversial” that Colee had failed to provide a written report for the January or March meetings of the national executive, the February report was in fact submitted in an “informal” manner.

“The question under both rules [in the constitution] is whether Ms Colee failed to ‘give’ a written report for three consecutive meetings. On my instructions that did not occur,” the advice read.

In a statement to Honi Soit, Colee said that seeking legal advice was “ultimately the right thing to do” in the interests of her accountability.

“I am committed to ensuring that all my time as President is documented and accounted for and strongly believe that the submission of reports is important for the transparency of the organisation,” she said.

Colee attributed her two missed reports to “exceptional circumstances” including the recent death of a family member.

“I have performed my job not only to the best of my abilities, but beyond the extent required by NUS and its governing documents.”

The NUS employed the services of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in March, reportedly at a cost estimated to be between $5,000 and $8,000, after it was understood Colee’s failure to submit monthly reports rendered her position automatically vacant under the organisation’s constitution.

Colee said she was confident in her ability to see through the remainder of her term as NUS President.

“I strongly believe that positions such as the one I hold should be open to people with all ranges of capabilities.”