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Bar Standards Board Washes Its Hands of the Juneja Case

Published on: 22 Jun, 2015
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2015

BSB logoThe Bar Standards Board (BSB) has declined to give a quotable comment on the case of convicted former councillor Monika Juneja, in responses to questions from The Guildford Dragon News.

The board’s position is, as Juneja, at the time a student member of Gray’s Inn of Court, had not been called to the bar, an enquiry into her status, other than confirming she was not a practising barrister, was not a matter for them.

A board spokesperson refused to say whether the BSB knew she had not passed her bar exam or, if they did know, at what stage.

Borough Council officers at Millmead are believed to be disappointed that other organisations, including the BSB, are not being criticised for their part in the enquiry, in particular their failure to provide a more complete picture about Juneja’s legal training history, to the independent investigation.

The Director of the BSB Dr Vanessa Davies wrote to Guildford Borough Council’s independent investigator Dr Robin Hooper correcting earlier advice from a junior at the Bar Council, based on the law as it had been, effectively, until 2010, that Juneja had not committed an offence.

Not only did Dr Davies confirm that it was an offence if Juneja had called herself a barrister she concluded: “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.”

Subsequently there was a follow up telephone conversation between Hooper and Davies but Davies, it is understood, only confirmed the content of the letter, offering no additional information.

Dr Hooper apparently accepted as evidence, a soft copy of a letter from BPP Law School informing Monika Juneja of her Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) result. But the letter had been forged by Juneja so that instead of her marking reading “not yet competent” it read “competent”. She sent it to Hooper as a scanned image attachment to an email.

Hooper did not verify the letter with BPP and so concluded that the only issue was whether having passed, as he believed, the barrister course, but not having been called to the bar or undergone pupillage, Juneja should have called herself a barrister.

His conclusion remained that by doing so, even if a criminal offence, she had not breached the Nolan code of conduct with which councillors should comply. Nor did he consider it necessary to report the matter to the police.

Soon afterwards when the matter was referred to the police by the complainants and detectives conducted their investigation, a check with BPP was carried out and quickly discovered that Juneja had not passed the Bar Professional Training Course. A search of Juneja’s address then discovered, among other evidence, the forged letter she had sent to Hooper.

Further checks by the Police showed that Juneja’s deceptions dated right back to her application for barrister training 15 years ago, when she forged her degree certificate to show BPP she had a 2.1 degree in sociology from Greenwich university instead of the 3rd she had actually obtained. A third class degree was not sufficient to apply for barrister training.Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 10.20.49

Anyone wishing to check whether a person claiming to be a barrister is properly qualified can use the barristers’ register, set up by the BSB in January 2012. But a check will only show whether someone has a current certificate to practise as a barrister; it will not reveal any further details about their level of qualification, so does not discriminate between a person who is completely unqualified, a person who has only passed the BPTC or a person who has been a fully qualified, practising barrister but does not have a current practising certificate.

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Responses to Bar Standards Board Washes Its Hands of the Juneja Case

  1. C Stevens Reply

    June 22, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    The letter dated 5 March 2014 from Dr Davies referred to here was addressed to Mr Satish Mistry, Head of Legal and Democratic Services at the council, and copied to Mrs Sue Sturgeon, Managing Director.

    It can be found here:

    The letter refers to S181 of the Legal Services Act of 2007. Surely Mr Mistry and Mrs Sturgeon would have immediately turned up the section? They would then have found that the penalty upon conviction for the offence of pretending to be a barrister is up to two years in prison or a fine or both. Clearly, a serious matter.

    Did Mr Mistry and Mrs Sturgeon turn up the section? If not, why not? Did they consider reporting the matter to the police? If not, why not? Did they report the matter to the police? If not, why not?

    I don’t think there’s much point in officers at the council being “disappointed” at other organisations not being criticised in this matter unless it’s clear that officers at the council did all that might have been done themselves.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 22, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I personally advised Hooper, in writing, not to take any evidence submitted by Juneja at face value, as she was at the time suspected of forgery, and to verify if from an independent source, such as the BPP college. He declined to accept my advice, and did indeed accept her forged evidence.

    Yet GBC is still maintaining that this was not a whitewash.

    Hooper has been described as the best person for the job of investigator but it appears he did not even have the necessary grasp of the Legal Services Act 2007.

    Can we now have our money back, plus an apology from GBC for their incompetence?

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