Tory councillor who posed as barrister faces jail

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Guilty: Juneja faces jail after lying about her qualifications

Guilty: Juneja faces jail after lying about her qualifications (Picture: Getty)

Updated: 18:16, 11 May 2015

A senior Tory councillor who posed as a barrister to win money and influence in a 14-year campaign of fraud and deception faces jail at the Old Bailey.

Monika Juneja, 36, rose to be deputy leader of the Conservative group on Guildford Borough Council after lying about her university and law qualifications.

She worked as a lawyer for Tower Hamlets, Bromley, Enfield, Brighton and Hove and Buckinghamshire councils “leading to mistakes costing many thousands of pounds.”

Her work at Bromley Council where she was employed as a licencing support officer earning nearly £20,000 a year lasted from 2003 until 2006.

Juneja claimed to be a land development specialist but was exposed when constituents in green belt areas smelled a rat and called in the police in 2014.

At the time she was an influential figure on Guildford council sitting on the planning committee and the council’s powerful executive.

She was arrested at her home in January 2014 after a council meeting.

Today Juneja, of Guildford, pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery dating back to 2000, obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception in 2003, and a charge of “wilfully pretending to be a barrister” between January 2010 and May 2014.

Further fraud charges were left on the file.

Judge Gerald Gordon adjourned sentence until June 15 for pre-sentence reports to be prepared but warned Juneja that was no indication of the punishment she would receive.

She was remanded on unconditional bail.

Prosecutor Kate Wilkinson told the court in 1997 Juneja had begun a degree in sociology and law at Greenwich University, but switched midway to just sociology and was awarded just a third class degree.

Having set her sights on a Bar course she needed at least a second class degree to be accepted so she forged a letter from the university to get a place at BPP Law School.

After beginning the course in September 2001, Juneja failed three attempts at successfully completing course modules and was declared not competent in law in July 2003.

Ms Wilkinson said: “It is right to say that she is not entitled to call herself a barrister in any sense.”

She went on to forge at least one document from BPP Law School, stating totally falsely that she had received a final assessment of very competent in law.

Juneja then applied for jobs where the law qualification was a real asset and gave her higher earning potential, Ms Wilkinson said.

But, the court heard, she would not had been offered that job had it been known that she had lied in her application about her degree and Bar course qualifications.

Howard Godfrey QC, defending, said Juneja had lied because she felt under pressure from her Indian-born parents to be a success, which would have been impossible after her third class degree.

He said she was guilty of “status frauds, not financial frauds” and that “she is not good at taking exams but very good at her work.”

Juneja had acted only as a “locum lawyer or paralegal” earning relatively low amounts of money.

As a councillor she was outstanding with years of public service to her name but had been the victim of a “witch hunt” by members of a pro-green belt group opposing development.

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