Equality Boss Faces Jail Over £11,000 Fund Diversion

An equality boss in the NHS faces a potential jail sentence after directing £11,000 worth of funds to her husband.

Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, broke down as she changed her plea on the second day of her trial at Exeter Crown Court.

Vasco-Knight Had used over £11,000 of NHS cash in order to pay her husband Stephen for work on and equality and diversity publication.

However, the publication in transform was absolutely fictitious, and her husband has also pleaded guilty to fraud.

The former nurse, a coronary size in Runcorn, Cheshire, was visibly moved in court.

Vasco-Knight has worked within the NHS system since the 1980s, before being appointed CEO at South Devon NHS trust in 2008.

In July, 2012,Vasco-Knight landed the prestigious position of NHS England’s national lead for equality, and was even awarded a CBE in 2014.

But in May, 2016, she was suspended as acting chief executive of London’s St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust over “financial allegations” related to a previous employer.

Recorder Don Tait informed Vasco-Knights that a “custodial sentence is a distinct possibility”, while delaying a verdict until Match.

Tait told the jury that “as far as Mrs Vasco-Knight is concerned, she has fallen a long way, hasn’t she, but that is her responsibility.”

Vasco-Knight was CEO at the South Devon NHS Foundation Trust when the offence occurred.

The equality boss had hired her husband for the fraudulent job back in April 2013, but prosecuting lawyer Gareth Evans demonstrated that this had ultimately being cut and pasted from a research paper by the Kings Fund.

Furthermore, the failure of Vasco-Knight to declare an interest in her husband’s company was also a criminal offence, and what Evans described as a “massive breach of trust and abuse of her position as chief executive”.

Compounding her position was the fact that Vasco-Knight attempted to blame another senior manager in the NHS for commissioning the newsletter in the first place.

Habib Naqvi was later cleared of this charge.

Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, which conducted the investigation, said Vasco-Knight’s meteoric career path had been “an inspiration to so many” and her fraud was a “huge disappointment and shock to many”.

The former healthcare boss will be sentenced on 10th March.

 

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