A FORMER member of the board of directors at the John Radcliffe's hospital trust has been spared jail for lying about having a degree to get the £130,000-a-year job. 

Peter Knight appeared at Oxford Crown Court today over one count of fraud by false representation for lying on his CV when he applied for the role of Chief Information and Digital Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) in 2016.

He was given a suspended two-year jail term and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

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The charge related to his time in the role between September 1, 2016 and August 20, 2018.

Jonathan Lynch, prosecuting, said an ‘anonymous referral’ was sent to OUH on May 9, 2018 saying that Knight did not have the Classics degree listed on his CV.

A search of his HR file revealed a copy of the degree certificate was not there and an email was sent to the 53-year-old requesting the documents.

The court heard Knight said he would ‘dig it out’ but despite a series of emails chasing him for the information the senior figure ‘put off and put off’ these attempts before resigning on August 20, 2018.

Mr Lynch said Knight had obtained a position with the Cabinet office but when his new employer asked for a referral from OUH it was not able to supply one until it knew what had happened.

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He added Knight eventually told the trust he had not completed his degree and blamed a recruitment firm for the inclusion of the line in his CV.

From there the trust’s internal investigation was moved to the police and in June, 2019 Knight admitted one charge of fraud by false representation.

He formally pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates' Court on December 3.

The court heard Knight described it as a ‘white lie’ to police and told officers he had not realised how serious it was.

Mr Lynch said the job advertisement had asked for a degree or 10 years senior experience, the latter of which Knight already had.

Talking about the impact of the lie, he said: “It is not a question he definitely wouldn’t have got the job but equally the trust can’t say he would have got it.”

Michael McAlinden, in mitigation, said Knight was a ‘broken man’ who had split with his wife, could not pay the mortgage and had twice attempted to kill himself since the truth was revealed.

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He described it as a ‘stupid mistake within an exemplary life so far’ and urged Judge Nigel Daly to impose a suspended sentence.

Mr McAlinden said it had ‘shattered’ his life and had a ‘devastating’ impact on the man, describing how Knight had been removed by police on December 19 from a bridge over the River Thames threatening to throw himself over the edge.

The court heard he had also taken an overdose on January 4 and both prosecution and defence were ‘extremely worried about his mental position’ if he was given a custodial sentence given the two recent ‘serious’ attempts on his life.

He cited a reference from Sir Alex Markham who praised his work, adding: “He performed this job to a very, very high standard and he was headhunted for the role.”

Judge Daly said while a custodial sentence was 'unavoidable' he believed there were grounds to suspend it.

After quoting from several senior NHS and academic figures who talked about the 'unique value' Knight brought to each role he held he said: "The damage that was done was effectively nil, quite the contrary, you have worked extremely well in the posts you have obtained."

He imposed a two year suspended sentence, with 30 days of rehabilitation activity and 200 hours unpaid work.

A statement from OUH following the sentencing 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."

It added: "In line with NHS Counter Fraud Authority guidance, the trust has applied for compensation for the costs of the investigation and for the salary paid to Mr Knight during his employment by OUH."

A proceeds of crime hearing to set the figure for compensation will take place at Oxford Crown Court on May 21.