University dean and his partner jailed for half a million pound fraud

Robert Smedley and Christopher Joynson.
Robert Smedley and Christopher Joynson.
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A former university dean and his lover have been jailed after being convicted of several counts of fraud.

Robert Smedley, 52, and Christopher Joynson, 34, both of Frankby Road, West Kirkby, were each given five years in prison at Liverpool Crown Court today (Monday, October 30) after previously being found guilty earlier this month.

Between autumn 2009 and summer 2014, the pair managed to scam Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, out of £513,000 after Smedley created a job for Joynson without conducting the adequate background checks, claiming they were not relevant to the role.

Had these checks been completed, they would have revealed Joynson had previously received two police cautions for lying on previous job applications.

He had also embellished his application for the Edge Hill role of Partnership Development Officer, claiming he had work experience relevant to the position which was false.

Smedley, who was the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the time, failed to declare to his employers that he was in a relationship with Joynson when he applied to work at Edge Hill. During their trial, the pair continued to protest that they were just friends.

During Joynson’s employment he invoiced the university for several hours of work that he had not completed, transferring around £200,000 into Smedley’s bank account.

Finance workers at the university became suspicious when an accountant noticed a large consultancy payment being made to the same bank account as a member of staff's salary.

DC David Wainwright from Lancashire’s Economic Crime Unit said: “Smedley was a member of senior management and abused that position for personal gain. He deceived the university, in particular colleagues he had known for many years and employed Joynson, his lover, in a position that he had simply devised himself.

“Joynson invoiced the university for hours and hours of work that he had not undertaken, sharing the money with Smedley. They used the cash towards expensive home improvements including a luxury kitchen.

“The financial impact on the university - the innocent victim in all this - cannot be underestimated; between the pair of them, they managed to defraud Edge Hill of over half a million pounds which could have been put to much better use.”