Two staff members at the University of Bolton have been sacked for allegedly leaking information to the press about the vice-chancellor George Holmes, the University and College Union has claimed.

The union also says a university pro-vice-chancellor has left the university at short notice in unknown circumstances.

Damian Markey, a senior lecturer in visual effects for film and television, was dismissed on Friday afternoon.

His wife Jennifer, an academic administrator in the health and community studies department, was dismissed on Monday.

Both deny any involvement in leaking information.

The university said it is “comfortable” that procedures had been followed and that it is yet to receive any appeals.

The sackings come after stories in the press about a £960,000 bridging loan granted by the university to the vice-chancellor to help him move house, as well as details of expensive staff away days to a resort in the Lake District.

The UCU union has alleged that Mr Markey was told to report to a disciplinary hearing at 2.30pm.

It said that during that hearing it is believed he was accused of making malicious statements about colleagues, leaking information to the press aimed at damaging the university, and bringing the university into disrepute.

The leaked information was in relation to a story in The Times Higher Educational Supplement about staff away days in the Lake District.

On its website, Times Higher Education states: “Times Higher Education, which broke the story about the £100,000 trips to Lake Windermere, wishes to make clear that neither Mr or Mrs Markey were the source of the story.

“The UCU has also pointed out that the information about the vice-chancellor’s loan was available in publicly available accounts.”

Mr Markey is a member of the University and College Union (UCU) and was the secretary of the local branch. His wife is also a member of the local Unison branch.

The UCU says it believes that the decision to dismiss him was because of his trade union activities — the university has denied this.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "These sackings are completely unjustified and quite staggering. There was no investigation and the whole sorry episode has ridden roughshod over the university’s own procedures.

"In our view what Bolton has done is unlawful and represents trade union victimisation and they can expect to face the full force of the national union."

A spokesman for the university said: “The university is comfortable that procedures have been followed and as yet no appeal has been lodged.

“The process is not connected with a staff member being a trade union official.”