“I did something wrong, and I have been judged by the court of the land. I will take the punishment, and apologise, which I profusely do”
BY JAMES WATKINS
A former Guildford borough councillor has apologised for making fake legal qualifications, but has maintained that racism was “certainly a factor” leading to her brush with the law.
Monika Juneja, of Doverfield Road, Guildford, pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery, one of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and one of pretending to be a barrister.
The 36-year-old returned to the Old Bailey last Monday (June 15) and was given a 14-month jail sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
After the hearing, Juneja said her convictions did not mean the work she previously carried out at Guildford Borough Council (GBC), including on a contentious Local Plan for future development, was in any way faulty.
Speaking to Get Surrey, Juneja said: “I did something wrong, and I have been judged by the court of the land. I will take the punishment, and apologise, which I profusely do.”
But she added: “Members of the community and complainants, some of those now in a political party, the point the judge made very clearly, people were there to discredit me because I was making very strong decisions.
“Rightly there was going to be opposition, but it became personal. I have a thick file of harassing emails. I had death threats.
“I have done something wrong, I’m not going to sit here and say I haven’t, I have been given my sentence, but I know this was not about me doing something wrong outside of GBC.
“This was about me being on the Local Plan and racism certainly is a factor, and my background.”
But complainant in the case, Julian Cranwell, has described claims that racism was at the heart of the issue as “deeply offensive”.
Mr Cranwell said: “When I first took up the matter with the council and the police, I had no idea she was a criminal.
“I merely objected [that] she was in public office and [had] lied about the fact she was a barrister.”
He thought that was a contravention of the local authority’s code of conduct, and said he was “flabbergasted” the council did not do anything about it.
He described an independent investigation as a “complete whitewash”.
“The council still has a lot to answer for,” he said. “As to racist claims, I have no idea where they come from.
“I have always been vehemently anti-racist and I have done everything I can to prevent any sort of racist comments and activity throughout my life.”
Mr Cranwell said that of all the people he knew who had made complaints in this matter, there was never a suspicion of racism being behind it and that it was all “to do with wrongdoing [by Juneja]”.
He also added that he was not aware of any threats of abuse against the ex-councillor.