Thomas Bridge 12 May 2015

Former councillor pretended to be a barrister

Former councillor pretended to be a barrister image

A former senior councillor has admitted pretending to be a barrister in a 14-year long campaign of fraud that saw her find work at five councils.

Monika Juneja, who was deputy leader of the Conservative Group at Guildford Borough Council, pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery dating back to 2000, obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception, and wilfully pretending to be a barrister between January 2010 and May 2014.

The Old Bailey heard Juneja, 36, had forged a letter to get a place at the BPP Law School and later forged a further document claiming she was competent in law.

She admitted giving false qualifications to Bromley Council, where she was hired in August 2003 as a licensing support officer.

Juneja used this role as a ‘spring board’ to find more legal work, landing employment as a planning officer at Tower Hamlets in November 2007 and Brighton and Hove Council in March 2009.

She later used her fake qualifications to get jobs in solicitor and lawyer roles at Buckingham and Enfield councils.

Juneja did not seek re-election at Guildford BC last week. She now faces jail and will be sentenced in June.

Prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said Juneja had been dishonest for 14 years, adding: ‘It is right to say that she is not entitled to call herself a barrister in any sense’.

Howard Godfrey QC, defending, said Juneja had been the victim of a ‘witch hunt’ and was ‘very good at her job’ despite not being qualified.

‘She is a lady of not merely good character but a lady of most outstanding positive good character in terms of the years of public service she has provided,’ he added.

Godfrey added that Juneja had been under pressure from her parents and ‘panicked’ when she graduated with a third class degree.

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