Former staff found guilty of swindling university

A university has 'serious questions to answer' after two of its employees were found guilty of fraud.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th October 2017, 3:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:40 am
The case was heard at Liverpool Crown Court
The case was heard at Liverpool Crown Court

Former dean Robert Smedley and his secret partner Christopher Joynson have been found guilty of fraud against Edge Hill University.

Following the guilty verdict, the University and College Union said the university had serious questions to answer about its governance structures.

Smedley, 52, of Grange Farm Crescent, West Kirby, Wirral, was found guilty of five counts of fraud. Christopher Joynson, 34, of Clocktower Apartments at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland was found guilty of four counts of fraud at Liverpool Crown Court. They will be sentenced on Monday, October 30.

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Smedley, who was Dean of the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University, had recruited Christopher Joynson for a salaried post he created for him.

But he also authorised payments for his invoices for consultancy work on top for five years.

For most of the time of the fraud Joynson was on the staff at the university, based in Ormskirk, West Lancashire and specialising in teacher training. His combined income from his salary and the consultancy work was about £132,000 a year.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "This case highlights serious questions that the senior management of Edge Hill University have to answer over governance - something UCU has raised concerns about in the past.

"Any attempt by the university to portray itself as the victim in this case would be wholly inappropriate. The real victims are taxpayers, students and staff, and the whole sorry episode brutally exposes how a lack of transparency in universities can leave them vulnerable to fraud.

"Staff and will want to know how this was allowed to happen. Why were there not the proper financial checks in place to stop it happening? How was someone paid a full salary and allowed to put in bills for consultancy work at the same time?

"The senior management of the university need to answer these questions and be held to account for such significant financial irregularities, which happened on their watch. They need to improve checks and balances and explain how decisions will be subject to greater and more transparent scrutiny in the future. We will be raising these points with them."

The university declined to comment.