Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: Monika Juneja – The Remaining Question

Published on: 15 May, 2015
Updated on: 18 May, 2015

Dragon Says 470One stand out question remains in the wake of the Monika Juneja court case this week.

It is not what sentence she will receive, no doubt the judge will consider carefully what is appropriate. We will just have to be patient on that score.

No, the question to be asked now is – just how did the internal inquiry, conducted on behalf of Guildford Borough Council by an experienced consultant, a consultant that has been described as a “troubleshooter”,  who is on record as saying, “the reality is that I deliver results” , who has charged other customers £295 an hour – how did his investigation, that we paid for, fail to reach the truth?

It might be understandable that the consultant, Dr Hooper, did not have the necessary training, skills or powers of observation to spot that a letter presented by Juneja, showing she had been marked “competent” on a barrister training course, was not a genuine original but a forgery, produced in a “blind panic” at the thought of fifteen years of pretence being uncovered.

It might even be understandable that, when wrongly advised by a junior employee at the Bar Council, Hooper felt able to write: “…to undertake reserved legal activities is not an offence and the General Bar Council accept that the word barrister may be used by anyone, there is nothing further to comment on.”

But when Vanessa Davies, the director of the Bar Standards Board no less, wrote to the council, correcting the earlier inaccurate advice, confirming that it was, in fact, an offence to pretend to be a barrister and explicitly 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,” the penny should have dropped.

The “implications” would have been clear to most of us but not, apparently, to Dr Hooper or others at the council who were privy to this advice. Instead the investigation remained closed, its finding, that there had been no wrongdoing, unchanged.

Just how could that be?

Perhaps there is something we don’t yet know, perhaps it was very poor judgement? And perhaps it’s time for some of that “openness and transparency” that the council often proclaims.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has attempted to contact Dr Hooper. If he answers any questions or makes a statement we will report back.

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Responses to The Dragon Says: Monika Juneja – The Remaining Question

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    May 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    • C Stevens Reply

      May 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      This link tells you all about Robin Hooper:

      including his Doctorate in Business Administration.

      The work he did for GBC in the Monika Juneja complaint is not the first he’s done for the council. He also worked for GBC in the lead up to former chief executive, David Hill’s departure.

  2. Brian Miller Reply

    May 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    The Guildford Dragon has spoken.

    After all the articles, letters and replies since the local election and a certain court case, the citizens of the borough await the sentencing of former councillor Monika Juneja and the appointments for positions on the council next week.

    Perhaps some are invoking the spirit of local author Lewis Carroll? He was fond of make believe.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    So they hired a planning lawyer to adjudicate on whether a claimed planning lawyer was genuine, and he appears to have failed to spot a fake. Great work.

    Do we get our money back for shoddy work, or does the council need to claim against his Professional Indemnity Insurance?

  4. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    May 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I wonder if the GBC will decide to re-elect Cllr Mansbridge tomorow as leader despite his misguided judgement of his business partner, former deputy Conservative group leader and political friend. It is clear where his allegencies lie. One also has to question all the other Conservatives if they urged Cllr Mansbridge to keep Juneja in her role, as he claimed.

    For readers to recall here is Stephen Mansbridge’s statement distributed by the GBC PR team in August:

    The Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge requested the following statement be sent to our media and local contacts:

    The police investigation into Cllr Juneja’s professional life beyond Guildford Borough Council, and the subsequent charges, are the result of a clear political campaign by a number of residents from the East of the borough who seek to discredit the Council’s draft Local Plan. The complainants hide behind a charge for better public probity; whilst they mask behind computers with insults, rhetoric, disdain and disorder. They have spent a year hounding this Councillor. It is worth reminding ourselves of the e-mail sent by Mr Julian Cranwell on 15 December 2013, which stated “…I do want her off the job of planning, given her history of pro-development. I accept that GGBG should keep away from this, it just needs a few good folks to make individual complaints, and we should get her out of the role.”

    Having returned from holiday, I have taken soundings amongst my political Group, and I am clear on four points:
    · – You are innocent until proven guilty in this country and I hope that never changes with the slurry of biased media coverage on this issue.
    · – Many of my elected political group do not wish Cllr Juneja to resign from her Executive role.
    · – Why complain, if you are not a victim?
    · – The conduct of Surrey Police in terms of this investigation and its relationship with the complainants is the subject of a number of complaints to the IPCC.
    We have a difficult task to accomplish, which is to steer a Local Plan through to successful adoption in order to secure the future of the borough of Guildford. If we want Guildford to remain as lively and good as it is today, then we need to embrace this opportunity rather than reject it. We need to remember that continuity is protected by change and not destroyed by it.
    Having said all this, most reluctantly I have asked Cllr Juneja to step down from her Executive position. Whilst, I have had many messages from organisations, pressure groups and individuals from around the borough imploring me to keep her on, as I have had from my own Councillors, I make this decision with the best interests of Cllr Juneja, my Conservative Group and the Council as a whole at heart.
    Cllr Juneja will not be suspended by the Conservative Group from her role as a Councillor, as a clear majority have voiced their opinion that this is an unnecessary act, particularly bearing in mind her diligence, commitment and heavy workload during her time as a Lead Member.
    I shall take charge of the Local Plan process and Planning, supported by my Executive.
    At this point, on behalf of the Executive, Conservative Group and the Council, I wish to thank Cllr Juneja for the exceptional service that she has given as a Lead Member for both Planning and Governance. Her departure is a loss for herself and the Executive, a loss for local politics at large and a loss for the borough as a whole. She takes with her a vast body of knowledge which cannot easily be replaced.

    PR and Marketing
    Guildford Borough Council

  5. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    In January 2014, I wrote, by email and letter, to Robin Hooper, including the following extract, in response to his draft report into the fallacious barrister claims:

    “7. Given the councillor’s previous behaviour, you appear ready to accept as evidence selected artefacts she has provided, as proof that she did not carry out reserved legal activities as a barrister, but only carried out legal services as a legal advisor, or locum lawyer, while at the same time claiming to be a barrister, in her register of interests and elsewhere. You have accepted her CV as evidence of this. However, you do not mention if you have obtained a copy of her CV submitted at the time of her adoption as a council candidate, from an independent source. In accepting the evidence provided, you have missed the point. Barristers do not use the term ‘barrister’ on emails, payslips and other communications to which you have referred. In addition, in these communications, she still perpetrates the illusion that she is able and/or qualified to give legal advice, to repeat your words, as a locum lawyer, planning lawyer, or legal advisor.”

    Mr. Hooper declined to respond to these suggestions, and released his report, largely unchanged, apart from suggesting censure of the many complainants.

  6. Valerie Thompson Reply

    May 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    How can we respect the GBC if they re-elect Stephen Mansbridge, with his record of supporting the now completely discredited Monika Juneja.

    I have written to all the councillors asking them to think very seriously about their vote tonight.

    At the very least Mr. Mansbridge has shown his poor judgement of people, and to have threatened the ‘whistle blowers’ who brought Ms.Juneja’s lies into the public eye is disgraceful.

    He is still claiming there was a ‘witch hunt’ against her. No, we acted like responsible citizens. Has he?

  7. Ben Paton Reply

    May 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    The question is not only why Dr Hooper failed to discover the truth. It is more serious. It is why, having been put on notice by the Bar Council that it was indeed a criminal offence falsely to call oneself a barrister, he failed to re-examine his conclusions.

    It was obvious to most impartial observers that Dr Hooper’s conclusions were faulty. First he failed to address the question of whether Ms Juneja had been honest. This was the complaint, not that she had broken the criminal law.

    Second, having exonerated her on second hand evidence (received by the complainants not him) that it was not a criminal offence to call oneself a barrister, he was expressly told by the Bar Council that that was not correct. He was invited to reconsider. He did nothing.

    The Bar Council’s letter to Satish Mistry can be found on the internet here.

    The meaning of honesty is discussed in this recent (2015) case in the High Court.

    Members of the public will wonder whether Dr Hooper was influenced by the Council. Mr Mansbridge has stated that ‘if you are not a victim why complain’. And Mr Rooth has stated in so many words that qualifications are unimportant for councillors.

    Adequate standards of governance? As Hamlet says, ‘There is something rotten in the State of Denmark’.

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