An NHS director who lied about having a degree to secure a six-figure-salary job has been handed a suspended sentence.
Peter Knight landed a top job as a director on the board of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OHU) by falsely claiming to have a degree in Classics on his CV.
The 53-year-old raked in £260,000 in the job from August 2016 until his resignation in September 2018, after an anonymous tip-off led to him being investigated.
Knight, of Blagrove Road, Teddington, south-west London, was handed a two-year suspended sentence at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday after previously admitting fraud “with intent to gain”.
He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and 30 days rehabilitation.
Sentencing Knight, Judge Nigel Daly said his sentence had been reduced because of his early guilty plea as well as character references about his “genuinely outstanding contributions” to the trust.
He said: “The damage that was done is effectively nil. You have worked extremely well in the past.
“I accept that this conviction has had a devastating effect on you, your family and others. You have lost your wife, you have lost your home and you have lost your relationships.”
Defence lawyer Michael McAlinden told the court that Knight’s life had been “shattered” since admitting the fraud.
Knight had been hired to help the NHS trust “become one of the foremost healthcare organisations in the UK and globally”, according to a statement the trust released on his appointment to the board.
Following his sentencing, a spokesman for the trust said: “Mr Knight’s role at OUH was non-clinical and he had no direct contact with patients.
“The Trust has subsequently strengthened its recruitment process to ensure that it is not possible to avoid confirming the academic qualifications of applicants prior to appointment.
“The Trust also verifies key qualifications with the university, professional body or other institution which awarded the qualification.”
OUH has applied for compensation for the costs of the investigation and Mr Knight’s salary. The judge told the court that financial settlement would be decided at a later date.
Sue Frith, chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, said Knight’s sentencing was “a reminder that the law and the rules apply to all the NHS, including senior managers in positions of great trust”.