Firefighters are in uproar after a chief allegedly lied about her qualifications.

Joanne Bowcock has been the deputy chief fire officer of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service since 2021.

She has claimed on record that she undertook a three-year Law degree at the University of Liverpool, starting in 2000.

In a video interview with the service in 2022, Ms Bowcock spoke about her past and acknowledged the degree.

“I studied Law at Liverpool Uni for three years,” she said.

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“I joined university thinking I was going to be a lawyer and I had a bit of a U-turn after I had spent a couple of years at A-Level studying law then did my degree so three years.”

An awkward moment then occurred as the interviewer sarcastically said: “Good use of the law degree then?”

Ms Bowcock laughed in response and said: “Yeah.”

A 2023 release by West Midlands Fire Service said: “Jo joined the fire and rescue service with a degree in law and has since gone on to attain higher level professional qualifications in leadership.”

The University of Liverpool was contacted about the law degree and staff confirmed Ms Bowcock dropped out.

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“Having looked at her record I can see that she studied with us from September 25, 2000, and subsequently withdrew from her studies on September 1, 2001,” said a member of university staff.

“To confirm, Joanne has not gained a law degree from our university or a certificate of any kind.”

The Oxford Mail approached Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service for comment on the degree disparities.

A spokesperson for the service said: “Jo Bowcock was categorically not appointed to her role at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service on the basis of any claim that she completed a law degree.

“The county council published a media release and video in March 2020 about recruitment that wrongly referenced Jo as having completed her degree.

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Joanne Bowcock of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.Joanne Bowcock of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“This detail should have been corrected before publication. Jo left her studies before completing them because she wanted to join the fire and rescue service.

“Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue has never at any stage, been in any doubt about the details on her CV including the fact that she did not complete her degree.”

An anonymous fire brigade whistleblower has argued that Ms Bowcock’s rumoured law degree did affect her appointment.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, the whistleblower said: “I am aware that another applicant was rejected at the time of Mrs Bowcock's application to become assistant chief fire officer.

“I am informed that at the time of application, Mrs Bowcock had not at that stage commenced the national Fire and Rescue Service Executive Leadership programme which is considered the "or equivalent" in lieu of the academic degree requirement.

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Joanne Bowcock claimed to have completed a degree at the University of Liverpool.Joanne Bowcock claimed to have completed a degree at the University of Liverpool. (Image: West Midlands Fire Service)

“The other applicant confirmed that in his unsuccessful candidate feedback, he was informed that Mrs Bowcock's law degree and knowledge of legality, policy and governance provided her an "edge" over himself.

"She has to go now, or Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the wider UK Fire and Rescue Service will have zero credibility.

“It is also incomprehensible that a senior public office holder in a uniformed service can remain tenable in post without these questions being addressed and frank answers provided.

“To repeatedly and egregiously breach the Nolan Principles, all codes of ethics and conduct is unacceptable for a public office holder who "sets the moral tone" for the Fire and Rescue Service.

“What message does it send to the public when there is someone provably dishonest occupying a top post?

“We need to get back to basics and start putting the public first."

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An anonymous whistleblower from the fire service spoke to the Oxford Mail. (Image: Newsquest)

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