Con­man jailed over £350,000 NHS fraud

Stockport Express - - Front Page -

AMAN who scammed £350,000 from the NHS to fund his ‘lav­ish life­style’ has been jailed.

Phillip Hufton, 52, also pre­tended to have can­cer and owned fake army medals while work­ing at a hos­pi­tal in Cam­bridgeshire.

He worked for the Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough NHS Foun­da­tion Trust (CPFT) for 17 months, but was fired af­ter staff dis­cov­ered his lies.

Hufton, of Chea­dle Hulme, cre­ated a fake email ac­count to ap­prove ex­penses of more than £13,000, and racked up a £9,000 bill for what he pre­tended was a work trip when he was ac­tu­ally in the USA.

The lies con­tin­ued on his CV, where he claimed to be a doc­tor and said he had a PhD, Cam­bridge Crown Court heard.

Hufton also lied about hav­ing can­cer and took time off work for surgery that never hap­pened. He claimed to have joined the Army and saved ‘count­less lives in the UN,’ buy­ing fake medals off the in­ter­net.

Hufton was em­ployed from Septem­ber 2014 to Jan­uary 2016 as a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager for the trust, based at Ful­bourn Hos­pi­tal. He was hired to pro­mote the trust’s busi­ness in the Mid­dle East.

When staff un­cov­ered ‘sev­eral dis­crep­an­cies’ in his work­ing time and ex­penses, in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions were launched.

Hufton told the trust he was work­ing in Am­man, the cap­i­tal of Jor­dan, in Oc­to­ber 2015. He even emailed a col­league a pic­ture of a refugee camp with the ti­tle ‘off to the of­fice.’

But GPRS from his phone placed him in the USA and the Caribbean at the time, and fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed the refugee camp im­age was taken on Google.

Hufton booked a stay at the Mar­riott Ho­tel in Cam­bridge and a flight to Doha for a four-day trip in De­cem­ber 2015.

He was off work sick at the time and the unau­tho­rised book­ing cost the trust £2,837.

Hufton was sacked in Jan­uary 2016 af­ter more in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and the trust then in­volved the po­lice.

Most of the ed­u­ca­tional claims on his CV, which said he had a PhD, a mas­ter’s and five other diplo­mas, were re­vealed to be false. In fact, he had only a Bach­e­lor of Nurs­ing de­gree, de­spite call­ing him­self a doc­tor.

Hufton also claimed to be a mem­ber of a num­ber of pro­fes­sional bod­ies, in­clud­ing the Royal So­ci­ety of Medicine, but the mem­ber­ships were all found to have lapsed or been false.

Through­out his time work­ing for the trust, the to­tal sum of money gained by and paid to Hufton was £349,383. He was ar­rested and ad­mit­ted in a po­lice in­ter­view that he had never paid any in­come or cor­po­ra­tion tax.

He said it was ‘very hard to re­mem­ber’ all the lies he had told, and said the de­cep­tion be­gan when he was liv­ing in a tent in Cam­bridge due to mar­i­tal dif­fi­cul­ties.

He ad­mit­ted claims that he had been in the Army were un­true and said he had bought his medals on­line. He had ac­tu­ally been an act­ing cap­tain in the Ter­ri­to­rial Army, the vol­un­teer re­serve force for the Bri­tish Army.

Hufton, of Ack Lane West, Chea­dle Hulme, told po­lice a large amount of his adult life had been lived as a lie, and said he had ‘sort of ex­pected’ a knock at the door. He said he had tied him­self in knots and had built a cop­ing mech­a­nism to keep peo­ple at home happy.

At a pre­vi­ous court hear­ing, Hufton pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the ba­sis that the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit to him was only £173,000 and not the full amount of £349,383.

But Cam­bridge Crown Court con­sid­ered the full loss in the case and on Thurs­day (Novem­ber 22), Hufton was sen­tenced to five years in prison.

Judge Jonathan Cooper told Hufton dur­ing sen­tenc­ing that the crimes had helped him fund a lav­ish life­style, and said the fraud­ster took steps to make it harder for his em­ployer to re­port him.

A spokesman for Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough NHS Foun­da­tion Trust said: “The ac­tions of Philip Hufton were rep­re­hen­si­ble.

He had come to the Trust highly rec­om­mended and with good ref­er­ences.

How­ever, at a time when NHS fi­nances are un­der se­vere pres­sure, he de­cided to de­fraud tax­pay­ers’ money for per­sonal gain.

“He also sought to win the trust of staff with his se­ries of lies.

“He may well have com­mit­ted fur­ther crimes if hadn’t been for the dili­gence of col­leagues who raised ini­tial con­cerns, and our in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors who then alerted Cam­bridgeshire Con­stab­u­lary.

“We would like to thank po­lice for their sup­port and the painstak­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion they un­der­took.”

●●Phillip Hufton has been jailed for five years

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