Council officer handed suspended jail term for falsifying air quality data

A former council officer at Waverley Borough Council has been given a suspended prison sentence for submitting false air quality data to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Ann-Marie Wade had falsified diffusion tube test results from 2015 and 2016 when she was working as an environmental officer for the local authority.

The incorrect data was discovered by a local air quality consultant, who alerted the council to his concerns about the report.

Following a council investigation, it became apparent that some of the test results had been fabricated.

Ms Wade, 44, had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud at Guildford Crown Court and on December 12 was handed a jail sentence of 12 months, suspended for 18 months.

She also must complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge of £140 and court costs of £1,500.

Paul McGorry, from the CPS, said: ‘For fraud to be committed, no gain or loss needs to be made, but the defendant’s conduct must be dishonest and their intention must be to either make a gain or cause a loss to another.

‘In this case, a loss was caused to her employers, who had to try and rectify her actions and she was paid to do carry out a function she did not fulfil.

‘She knew the importance of her work and the potential consequences for the council of providing false data, not least the impact this would have on its reputation and its legal obligation to supply this information to the government.’

A Waverley Borough Council spokesperson said: ‘The council takes the issue of air quality extremely seriously and recognises that it is an important issue for our residents. That is why we acted promptly by commissioning an independent audit investigation after discovering issues with the reporting and monitoring of the council’s air quality data, and subsequently asking the police to investigate.

‘We are pleased with the outcome of this case and would like to thank Surrey Police for their hard work on this investigation, and the CPS for ensuring that justice prevailed.

‘We will now focus on continuing to guarantee that our routine monitoring of air quality is carried out to the highest standards.’