Fringe Box



Jules Cranwell, Who Raised the Complaint Against Monika Juneja, Talks to The Dragon

Published on: 12 May, 2015
Updated on: 17 May, 2015

The trial of Monika Juneja, until last week a Guildford Borough councillor, who yesterday (May 11) pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to pretending to be a barrister, deception and forgery, has made the national news.

Jules Cranwell was one of those that made the original complaint to Guildford Borough Council (GBC) and then, dissatisfied with the outcome of their enquiry, referred the complaint to Surrey Police.

A member of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, Mr Cranwell wished to make it clear that he is speaking not on the group’s behalf but only in his capacity as a private citizen who fought to bring the case to light.

Jules Cranwell

Jules Cranwell

What made you first suspect Monika Juneja was not a properly qualified barrister and when?

I and my friend Mr. Robertson, a solicitor, had a meeting with Cllrs Monika Juneja, Stephen Mansbridge and Mr. Mistry [head of legal and democratic services at GBC] on November 26th 2013, to discuss Ms. Juneja’s conflicting roles as lead councillor for planning and as a director of Surrey Connects, a private company with a remit to encourage business incubation in Guildford. During this meeting Ms. Juneja claimed to be a barrister with Gray’s Inn chambers.

After the meeting Mr. Robertson and I both commented that we did not find it credible that she was a barrister. I had worked for a leading law firm for many years and, as a solicitor, Mr. Robertson had regular interaction with barristers. We both agreed that Ms. Juneja self-evidently did not possess the advocacy skills required of either a lawyer or barrister as she did not make well structured arguments, or have the required eloquence. Very soon after this meeting, a correspondent confirmed with the bar council that she was not, as claimed, a barrister.

Were you alone in making the ​original complaint to GBC​?

No I was not alone in making the complaints. I’m aware that at least four other residents, one of them a was Chris Tailby CBE, a retired barrister, also lodged complaints to Mr. Mistry.

I complained as a private citizen, as I believed the council’s code of conduct, and the Nolan principles for conduct in public office had been breached. My involvement with the green belt movement had nothing to do with my reasons for bringing this matter to light. Our reward was to be accused variously by Cllrs Mansbridge and/or Juneja of conducting a witch-hunt, having racist motives, and to be threatened with legal action.

What was your reaction to the Robin Hooper investigation findings? (Robin Hooper was a consultant and former chief executive of other local authorities brought in by GBC to investigate the complaint against Monika Juneja.)

I thought it a very poor show, I presented Mr. Hooper with much of the same evidence as gathered by the police. He concluded that, although he acknowledged that she was not, as claimed, a barrister, she had done nothing wrong. Instead he implied criticism of my motivation for making the complaint. The investigation was not re-opened, even when the Bar Standards Board, correcting earlier advice, informed GBC that it was, in fact, a criminal offence to pass oneself of as a barrister and that their correction had, “implications for the investigation”.

No censure was indicated, although it was by now known that Ms. Juneja had lied to the electorate, her colleagues and the public. Until charged by the police she remained the lead councillor for planning. She remained the deputy leader of the Conservative Group until January this year and a councillor until the end of her term.

What was your impression of the Surrey police investigating officers?

The investigating officers were at all times highly professional, impartial, patient, and highly diligent. I saw, throughout, not a hint of bias.

What is your reaction to Juneja’s guilty pleas?

Disappointed, because a full trial will not now take place. If it had, I believe it would have shone a spotlight on the conduct of others involved in this matter.

What do you think about the statements, made in court, by Stephen Mansbridge of green belt activist harassment?

Before answering that, I would comment that I found the unstinting support for Ms. Juneja, from Cllr. Mansbridge, and the GBC managing director, Ms. Sturgeon (written the day before the election) unconscionable, there was no hint of criticism.

Mansbridge claimed Ms. Juneja was appointed to the lead planning role,  based on her experience of planning matters only. She was also appointed lead councillor for governance, with seemingly no checks on her bona fides, which now seems somewhat ironic. He now knows her experience of planning was fraudulently gained, based on forged credentials, but made no comment on this.

From the references read out by her barrister, it became clear that her experience was almost wholly negotiating S106 payments from developers. Such payments are made to councils as a condition for obtaining planning permissions. This is hardly suitable experience for someone entrusted with the unbiased development of the local plan, and perhaps explains why the local plan is so biased towards massive development. Neither of them appears to appreciate the import of Ms. Juneja having lied throughout her political career, to the voting public, and her colleagues.

As to harassment, abuse and threats, claimed by Mr. Mansbridge, I have seen no evidence of such. I have seen justified complaints of poor performance by both individuals. I have seen and made complaints over the conduct and suitability of the individuals, but no evidence of personal attacks, as claimed, and I challenge Mr. Mansbridge to publish the lever-arch file he claims to have with examples of such.

Green belt campaigners were not the ones on trial here, and it is risible for Stephen Mansbridge to try to deflect culpability in this way. Then again, Mr. Mansbridge has stated as his philosophy, “Why complain, if you’re not a victim”.

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Responses to Jules Cranwell, Who Raised the Complaint Against Monika Juneja, Talks to The Dragon

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    May 12, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    It is surely an interesting coincidence that the date set for the Old Bailey trial came after the local elections.

  2. Mike Evans Reply

    May 14, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Jules Cranwell was 100% correct to pursue this.

    I saw Ms Juneja when she came to our village hall to present the local plan. I was underwhelmed by her performance and on looking at her c.v. afterwards I said to my wife that it stretched credibility that she was a barrister and went on to add that such was her performance I didn’t see how she could earn a living in anything connected to the law. Little did I know what would happen.

    I wonder, did Stephen Mansbridge appear at the Old Bailey as Leader of Guildford Borough Council, a friend, or as someone who was a fellow director with Ms Juneja of One Hit Consulting Ltd.

    It all leaves a sour taste regarding the conduct of officials elected to represent us.

    Stephen Mansbridge appeared to give his evidence as the council leader, a friend and a business partner. He volunteered information about the business relationship without prompting. Ed

  3. Michael Bruton Reply

    May 14, 2015 at 11:54 am

    May I commend all those involved in unearthing any form of wrongdoing that has taken place/may be taking place, within Guildford Borough Council. Those of us who subscribe to Private Eye are shocked every fortnight by what is reported regarding many Town and County Halls across the UK.

    To the Private Eye roll call of Rotherham, Doncaster and Tower Hamlets – do we now add Guildford ?

    We do need tireless pursuers of truth, like Mr Cranwell and Mrs Thompson to lift the lid on what is happening in our names.

  4. Garry Walton Reply

    May 15, 2015 at 10:01 am

    As a Guildford resident I am truly grateful to Mr Cranwell for lifting the lid on wrongdoing at Guildford Borough Council.

    Let’s reward, not pillory, people like him who shine a light into the murky corners of our local government.

    We need to find out if this is the just the tip of an iceberg and all good honest councillors should come forward to support that aim.

    Conservative leader Stephen Mansbridge has shown his true colours by his steadfast support of Ms Juneja and should stand down immediately.

  5. Janette Panton Reply

    May 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I too, as a Guildford resident, am grateful to Jules Cranwell and others who pursued the criminal activities of a councillor who held responsibility for many planning matters as well as the seriously flawed Draft Local Plan.

    I also fully agree that Stephen Mansbridge who has continually supported Monika Juneja through this whole sorry episode should now stand down. Certainly it would be a huge injustice for Guildford residents if Stephen Mansbridge is elected as Leader of the Council next Tuesday. I do sincerely hope this will not be the case.

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

    If indeed Cllr Mansbridge is again elected as leader, it will demonstrate that councillors have learned nothing from this sorry, and avoidable, affair.

    He has been an apologist for Monika Juneja, now shown to be a criminal, throughout and has done his best to intimidate and discredit those who brought these misdeeds to the attention of the council and the authorities.

    Council officers also have much to answer for, given the evidently flawed investigation into the misdeeds, and should now be considering their positions. If not, the public will be justified in having no confidence in the council and its leadership.

  7. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 26, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Given recent statements by the GBC Executive, in which it has been made clear that they still hold the citizens of the borough in contempt, and the only conclusion to be drawn is that they have learned nothing, and it remains status quo in Millmead.

    We are due an Executive that works for the benefit of the citizens. When will we get this?

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