GBC faces ‘Reputational Damage’

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Council Report Accepts Juneja Case Has Caused ‘Reputational Damage’

GBC Governance reportA Guildford Borough Council (GBC) report, The Annual Governance Statement 2014-15, presented to the Executive last night (June 11), has effectively exonerated those involved in the council’s internal investigation into former councillor Monika Juneja’s conduct, but admits that the council has suffered reputational damage.

The report states that after the internal investigation, conducted after complaints against Juneja had been received from several members of the public: “Further information was obtained by the police, which had not been at the disposal of the council’s independent investigator during the investigation.”

Cllr Gordon Jackson (Con, Pirbright), the chairman of corporate governance and standards committee, said that the decision not to re-open the enquiry, after a letter was received from the director of the Bar Standards Board, had been taken by Dr Robin Hooper, the independent investigator appointed by the council, not council officers.

In the letter the director apologised for earlier advice provided by a junior at the Bar Council which incorrectly stated that it was not an offence for someone who had not been called to the bar to call themselves a barrister. She concluded the letter by writing: “Now that I have set out the correct position for you it will be clear that there are implications for the investigation report but those, of course, are a matter for you.”

During the enquiry Dr Hooper had accepted, on face value, forged evidence presented by Monika Juneja, in the form of a letter from a bar examination authority which Juneja had forged to indicate she had achieved a “competent” marking in a bar exam when, in fact, she had been marked “not competent”.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has been informed that Juneja only provided a copy of an original letter, sent to her informing her of her exam result, to Dr Hooper. It is not normal practice for investigating officers from government agencies to accept such copies without verification.

However, Cllr Jackson said that it had been necessary for the police: “with their greater powers of investigation,” to uncover the truth.

He additionally commented: “It is not the council’s role to conduct detailed investigations into councillors’ pasts,” nor he said was there any evidence that Monika Juneja, in her time as a councillor, had influenced any council decisions in an improper way.

The Annual Governance Statement section on the investigation concluded: “The offences [to which Juneja pleaded guilty on May 11] related to the former councillor’s personal and professional working life and Guildford Borough Council did not suffer any direct financial loss. However, we accept that the council has suffered reputational damage.”

Recently Guildford Borough Council has featured in the “Rotten Boroughs” section of satirical magazine Private Eye in an article that questioned the decision of the Conservative members of the council to re-elect Cllr Mansbridge as leader of the Conservative group and council leader.

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