The Daily Telegraph has the sequel to the story about the grad student who tried to bluff his way through economics lectures in Bejing. If that was bad, the aftermath may be worse as it involves lawyers.
Student lecturer may be sued: An Oxford engineering student who posed as an expert in global finance to deliver lectures to business leaders in China, was told yesterday that he could be sued.
Faced with the bad publicity, the lecture hosts are now scrambling to say they knew he was a fake all along, and they're going to get him for it.
Although Mr Richardson, who is studying at St Peter's College, was the toast of his friends after returning to Britain, the academic institution that sent him to China was less than amused.
Dr Julian Ng, of the private Warnborough University in Canterbury, said: “Mr Richardson may think he has been very clever but there are serious ramifications. Several dozen people from the business world took time out from their busy schedules to fly to Beijing to attend the lectures.
“Being Chinese, they were far too polite to say anything to Mr Richardson but it was soon obvious to them that they were being addressed by someone who didn't know what he was talking about.
“A lot of time and money has been wasted and we are having to re-run the lectures.
“We are in contact with counsel and it may well be that we will sue Mr Richardson for the return of the money he has taken from us.” However, Mr Richardson was unrepentant. He said: “I know about as much about the law as I do about finance, which is not very much, but I don't think they stand a chance.”
Dr Ng said he had lined up an academic to deliver the lectures to the businessmen and women studying for a PhD but he pulled out over fears of contracting bird flu. In haste he contacted a colleague who suggested Mr Richardson.
“I was under the impression that Mr Richardson was a doctoral student in finance,” he said.
“I had no idea he was studying engineering. This only became apparent when his CV arrived after he had flown to China.”
It does seem that the hosts have the makings of a breach of contract case, as Mr. Richardson didn't in fact deliver all the lectures. On the other hand, if they represented to him that it was going to be fewer lectures, or the same one a few times, he might have a counter-claim or at least a defence.
Myself, I hope the hosts are blowing smoke. I doubt the claim would be worth pursing, either for the limited damages (although you get costs in the UK so smaller claims are viable), or for the certainty of even more bad publicity.
Then again, would Mr. Richardson go pro se? That might be something to see.