Former Councillor Monika Juneja Pleads Guilty To Forgery and ‘Barrister’ Pretence
Former Guildford Borough councillor Monika Juneja pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey today (Monday, May 11) of pretending to be a barrister.
She also pleaded guilty to three charges of forgery and one of deception to obtain a pecuniary advantage.
Three further counts of fraud were dropped but remain on file.
The court heard summaries of the various charges the first of which related to an offence committed 15 years ago when a forged degree certificate, upping her grade from a 3rd to a 2.1, was submitted by Juneja to obtain a place on a Bar vocational course for those wishing to become barristers.
Despite failing, Juneja subsequently claimed to have passed the barrister course and obtained several posts with local authorities as a locum lawyer.
A member of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) is understood to have suspected Juneja’s status and made a complaint to Guildford Borough Council. The council called in an outside consultant to investigate.
“In blind panic” at the thought of her deception being uncovered, Juneja repeated her earlier offence by giving the investigator another forged certificate to back up her false claim of barrister status.
This together with erroneous information supplied by the Bar Council led investigator Dr Robin Hooper to conclude that Juneja had done nothing wrong.
However, the complaint was then referred to Surrey Police whose investigation uncovered the evidence of forgeries and deception.
Character witness evidence was given by the leader of Guildford Borough Council, Stephen Mansbridge, and the council’s managing director Sue Sturgeon.
Cllr Mansbridge, who has stood by Juneja throughout the investigation and court proceedings, spoke highly of Juneja’s work as a councillor which culminated in her “working five days a week on the Local Plan”.
Describing her current mental state, Mr Mansbridge said that she was now a broken women who had endured relentless harassment from green belt campaigners who admitted that they were determined to get her removed from her post.
Because of the reported harassment both Cllr Mansbridge and Juneja had been advised to use extra security devices.
Answering questions put by Kate Wilkinson, the prosecution barrister on his relationship with Juneja, Mr Mansbridge said that she was a very close friend and supporter and that “political relationships are very strong”.
In a written statement read to the court, Guildford Borough Council’s managing director, Sue Sturgeon, wrote: “I found her to be a very hardworking, committed and a capable councillor… her commitment to public service cannot be doubted.”
Although the forgery charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, the defence barrister urged the judge to consider a non custodial sentence and requested a pre-sentencing report to be completed by the probation service in Guildford.
The judge said that he was obliged to accede to the request but that this should not be considered an indication of the sentence that may be awarded.
The court is expected to reconvene on June 15, for sentencing.