A former local councillor has received a two-year suspended sentence for pretending to be a barrister by forging qualifications for over a decade.
Monika Juneja, 36, of Guildford, who was a Guildford borough councillor until last month’s elections, was also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.
In a previous hearing at the Old Bailey she had pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery, including one charge of wilfully pretending to be barrister and one of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.
Juneja’s deception began 14 years ago when she forged a letter from the University of Greenwich after she failed to achieve the qualifications she needed to attend law school in London.
Then when she failed to pass her bar exams, she forged a letter from the law school saying she had passed.
‘Monika Juneja never let her academic failings get in the way of what she wanted to achieve,’ Jaswant Narwal, chief Crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service south-east, said. ‘She claimed to be barrister over many years despite never having actually qualified or being entitled to call herself a barrister in any context.’
Juneja used her fake qualifications repeatedly on CVs and applications, Narwal said, meaning she ‘was able to gain a variety of jobs, all of which were more highly paid than they otherwise would have been, because of the inaccurate information she gave her potential employers’.
The Surrey Advertiser newspaper reported that Juneja used these qualifications to obtain employment in the City of London as a locum planning solicitor as well as in four other posts with local authorities as a lawyer.
She then referred to herself as a barrister when she stood as a councillor in the May 2011 local elections, but was caught out after her constituents complained that she had misrepresented herself.
‘In the face of overwhelming evidence from the prosecution, she finally admitted her deception,’ Narwal said.