Surrey

Ex-Guildford councillor who pretended to be barrister is sentenced

Monika Juneja Image copyright Central News
Image caption Monika Juneja admitted faking qualifications and pretending to be a barrister

A former councillor who pretended to be a barrister to boost her career potential has been sentenced.

Monika Juneja, 36, forged a degree to secure a place at law school and after failing the course, falsified documents to suggest she was competent in law.

She admitted forgery, obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and wilfully pretending to be a barrister.

At the Old Bailey Juneja, of Doverfield Road, Guildford, was given a 14-month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Kate Wilkinson, prosecuting, said Juneja had used the false qualifications to climb the career ladder and improve her social standing.

After securing a job with Bromley Council, she used it as a "springboard" to work with councils in London and Brighton and Hove, the court heard.

'Status and success'

Juneja was exposed by some of her constituents in Guildford, where she was cabinet member for planning on the borough council, after they looked into her background when she backed plans for hundreds of homes in the area.

Judge Gerald Gordon said: "I am satisfied you yourself wanted the status and the prospect of success and advancement that it would bring."

He acknowledged part of her initial motivation was parental pressure to do well.

The court heard at least one council has rechecked her work for any legal errors.

Juneja was arrested in May and did not stand for re-election that month.

Howard Godfrey QC, defending, said: "She has suffered because... she is the victim of a witch hunt in Guildford as a result of planning policy which she was seeking to put forward."

"Plainly she has behaved improperly and plainly she has committed a number of criminal offences," he said.

Juneja was also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.

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