William Eichler 20 December 2019

Former council employee who falsified air quality data convicted of fraud

A former Waverley Borough Council employee has been given a suspended prison sentence for committing fraud after falsifying air quality data.

Ann-Marie Wade, 44, had previously pleaded guilty at Guildford Crown Court to two charges of fraud.

The charges related to test results from 2015 and 2016, when Ms Wade was working as an environmental officer for the council.

To report on air quality, diffusion tubes are located at various sites and have to be replaced monthly and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

A council investigation revealed that some of the test results had been fabricated.

‘For fraud to be committed, no gain or loss needs to be made, but the defendant’s conduct must be dishonest and their intention must be to either make a gain or cause a loss to another,’ said Paul McGorry from the Crown Prosecution Service.

‘In this case, a loss was caused to her employers, who had to try and rectify her actions and she was paid to carry out a function she did not fulfil.

‘She knew the importance of her work and the potential consequences for the council of providing false data, not least the impact this would have on its reputation and its legal obligation to supply this information to the Government.’

A council spokesperson said: 'The council takes the issue of air quality extremely seriously and recognises that it is an important issue for our residents. That is why we acted promptly by commissioning an independent audit investigation after discovering issues with the reporting and monitoring of the council’s air quality data, and subsequently asking the police to investigate.

'We are pleased with the outcome of this case and would like to thank Surrey Police for their hard work on this investigation, and the CPS for ensuring that justice prevailed.'

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