A fraudster jailed for falsifying qualifications to secure a top NHS job should have to pay back some of the wages he unlawfully received, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Justices unanimously overturned a Court of Appeal ruling that Jon Andrewes should not receive a confiscation order and said it would not be disproportionate to expect him to pay something back.
The Supreme Court sought a ‘middle way’ between a confiscation order requiring Andrewes to pay back his full net earnings (£643,000), and the alternative of making no order. The court made a new order that he pay around £97,000.
The court heard that Andrewes successfully applied for the role of chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice in Taunton, having falsely claimed he had university degrees and relevant work experience. He had even claimed to have obtained a PhD from Plymouth University and insisted that he should be referred to as Dr Jon Andrewes. He stayed in the post from 2004 to 2015 and his work was regularly appraised as either strong or outstanding.
Andrewes used similar lies to be appointed to paid roles as a director and then chair of the Torbay NHS Care Trust and chair of the Royal Cornwall NHS Hospital Trust. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and two counts of fraud, and was sentended to two years’ imprisonment. Following his conviction, the Crown sought a confiscation order for his full net earnings during the period of his employment under false pretences.
Giving the lead judgment, Lord Hodge and Lord Burrows said the case raised an important issue on the confiscation regime laid down by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and in particular what payments should be ordered against a so-called ‘CV fraudster’ who has performed his job satisfactorily.
They agreed with the Court of Appeal in so much as a confiscation order for Andrewes’ full wages would constitute what they described as ‘double disgorgement’ and would be disproportionate.
But they also rejected submissions from Andrewes that a ‘take nothing’ approach was correct. Although he may have done a good job, the hospice and two trusts had sought a person of honesty and integrity and would have chosen another candidate but for Andrewes’ deception.
They added: ‘In cv fraud cases, where, focusing solely on the performance of services, the fraudster has given full value for the earnings received — and putting to one side where the performance of the services constitutes a criminal offence — it will normally be disproportionate to confiscate all the net earnings made.
‘But it will be proportionate to confiscate the difference between the higher earnings made as a result of the cv fraud and the lower earnings that the defendant would have made had he or she not committed the cv fraud.’
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