Fringe Box



Council Report Accepts Juneja Case Has Caused ‘Reputational Damage’

Published on: 12 Jun, 2015
Updated on: 19 Jun, 2015

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 Guidford 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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Responses to Council Report Accepts Juneja Case Has Caused ‘Reputational Damage’

  1. Brian Miller Reply

    June 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    It appears to me Guildford Borough Council are ‘doing a Pontius Pilate’ just before Monika Juneja is sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday. It will be interesting to see what the judge has to say.

    • Peta Malthouse Reply

      June 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      I personally cannot work out what has caused me more shock and dismay:

      1. that one of our elected councillors should be exposed as a liar and cheat and yet not accept her guilt. It took 14 months, I believe, of partly publicly funded legal proceedings before she ‘put her hands up’;

      2. that Cllr Mansbridge who is in business with her either did not distance himself when she was charged;

      3. that he continued to claim that she had been unfairly accused and initially that this was because of racism, a complete disgrace to suggest without evidence, in my view;

      4. we now read that when the Bar Standards Board corrected their advice and told the borough council it was a criminal offence to call oneself a barrister but no further action was taken.

      5. and we are told it did not effect the council except its reputation. I cannot accept that. The standing in the community and the value of an opinion offered by a barrister influences the opinions of others and it is that which is the key to this sorry mess.

      The whole thing displays ineptitude and flies in the face of the Nolan Principles.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 13, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I personally advised Hooper, in writing, not to take any evidence presented by Juneja at face value, but have it independently verified. He did not even take the trouble to contact the BPP law school, to ask if the letter was genuine.

    The entire affair was a whitewash, yet no heads will roll.

    Then we have the unseemly intervention of the council leader and managing director presenting a spirited defence of the criminal Juneja in court.

    There has been no censure of the monitoring officer who presided over this sorry and avoidable affair.

    It is time for a root and branch clean up at Millmead.

  3. Frank Phillipson Reply

    June 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    If it wasn’t “council officers”, who in the council appointed Dr Hooper? What were Dr Hooper’s qualifications for carrying out an investigation?

    After it was found that Dr Hooper had accepted telephone information, rather than an official letter, from someone at the Bar Council who was not qualified to do so, why was the investigation not reopened?

    The fact that he also accepted copies of documents in his investigation makes me wonder why GBC is not seeking to reclaim the fee that he must have been paid.

    I don’t think that it is necessarily true that it needed the police “with their greater powers of investigation” to reveal the truth. More thorough research together with acceptance only of official letters and original documents would have done this.

    It maybe true when Cllr Jackson says that “It is not the council’s role to conduct detailed investigations into councillors’ pasts,” when serious concerns are raised it does become the council’s role.

    As regards the Planning aspect of Monika Juneja’s role, with her supposed professional “legal” knowledge, she would be expected to be more able to deal with this heavily legal laden subject.

    A councillor with expert professional knowledge logically doesn’t just put that to one side and become a lay person when they deal with council matters. It is a pity that some cannot acknowledge this and that it is possible, although possibly unlikely, that Cllr Juneja might have erroneously prejudiced the local plan process.

  4. Mary Bedforth Reply

    June 14, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Dr Hooper should return the fee paid to him by GBC.

    Can we all have a bucket of Millmead special brilliant white whitewash FOC? I need to cover up a grubby wall or two.

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