How NHS was caught out by Catch Me If You Can-style con: Ex-builder tricked his way into top jobs by faking his CV to pretend he had a PhD pocketing more than £100,000 in taxpayers’ cash before his lies were exposed
- Jon Andrewes, 69, told ‘staggering lies’ on his CV to become a top NHS boss
- Andrewes began his forged career in 2004 at St Margaret’s Hospice, Somerset
- He told staff to call him ‘Dr’ and claimed to have degrees from three universities
- In 2017, he was jailed for two years and ordered to pay back £96,737 of earnings
To the high-powered NHS panel who interviewed Jon Andrewes, he was the ‘outstanding’ choice out of a field of 117 candidates competing to be chairman of a hospital trust.
But in reality, the former builder had a likeness to Frank Abagnale, the legendary U.S. fraudster whose exploits were turned into the movie Catch Me If You Can – because he had no qualifications and had been faking his CV for more than a decade to land a series of top health jobs.
Jon Andrewes, 69, spent a decade working as chairman of two NHS trusts and chief executive of a hospice after pretending to have a PhD, an MBA and a history of senior management roles.
As it turns out, the only qualification Mr Andrewes had was a Higher Education Certificate in Social Work.
Jon Andrewes, 69, spent a decade working as chairman of two NHS trusts and chief executive of a hospice after pretending to have a PhD, an MBA and a history of senior management roles
Despite this, Mr Andrewes managed to convince a high-powered panel at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) that his fake CV was legitimate – getting him the job ahead of 117 other candidates.
Walking out of the interview, the panel described him as ‘outstanding’.
Over the next decade, Mr Andrewes continued to lie his way into roles at two South West health trusts.
In total, Mr Andrewes earned a total of £643,602.91 out of his illegal career.
In 2017, Andrewes was exposed and convicted of fraud, jailed for two years and ordered to hand over all his remaining assets of £96,737.
However, the confiscation order was overturned by the Court of Appeal two years ago when judges ruled he had given ‘full value’ for his salary in the jobs he did.
Now, more than five years after pleading guilty to fraud charges, a ruling on Thursday confirmed that Andrewes has had the financial penalty reinstated by the Supreme Court and must pay back nearly £100,000.
Mr Andrewes started his career as a builder and then moved onto becoming a probation officer, customs officer or youth worker before inventing a new life for himself as an NHS manager.
‘Under Jon’s leadership we achieved a hell of a lot for Brixham,’ said Chris Lomas, a former Liberal Democrat councillor who Mr Andrewes worked with.
‘He got things done. I always thought of him as a successful high-flying, high achiever. I don’t agree with anyone forging qualifications to get ahead of somebody else.
‘I suspect he got frustrated with people less able than himself getting promotions because he did not have the right piece of paper.’
After faking his CV, Mr Andrewes was appointed Chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, Somerset in 2004 on an initial salary of £75,000-a-year
After faking his CV, Mr Andrewes was appointed Chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, Somerset in 2004 on an initial salary of £75,000-a-year.
He would go on to earn a total of £643,602.
He then became Non-Executive Director of the Torbay NHS Trust in Devon, which he was appointed to in 2007.
Andrewes ran the trust for nearly a decade and received a net income of £62,156.
In 2015, Andrewes became the Chairman of the Royal Cornwall NHS Hospital Trust, receiving a net income of £33,687.
‘It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with the communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to provide outstanding health and social care services,’ he said in a statement shortly before taking up his duties in 2015.
‘I will listen and engage with patients, clinicians and the wider community to improve care for the people we serve.’
The RCHT has a budget of about £380 million and employs 5,000 staff at three hospitals.
While Andrewes CV was not questioned, a former member of staff claims that some questions were raised in his interview for the Cornish trust.
He was challenged about why his name was spelt differently (‘Andrewes’ and ‘Andrews’ and ‘Jon’ and ‘John’) on his birth certificate, passport and driving licence.
He said this was because he had been adopted, something the Daily Mail have been unable to verify.
As it turns out, the only qualification Mr Andrewes had was a Higher Education Certificate in Social Work
In 2015, Andrewes became the Chairman of the Royal Cornwall NHS Hospital Trust (pictured), receiving a net income of £33,687
Copies of the documents with the different spellings circled were reportedly sent to the Criminal Records Bureau, part of the Home Office (now the Disclosure and Barring Service) which confirmed that Andrewes did not have a criminal record.
Andrewes total income from NHS tax-payer money was £115,843
Andrewes had successfully used his position as CEO of St Margaret’s to springboard his career in the NHS, taking up a string of influential, high-profile, non-executive roles he was able to carry out in conjunction with his responsibilities at the hospice.
As well as his formal roles, Andrewes was also paid an additional £20,000 for chairing, on a temporary basis, another Devon health partnership in 2013.
His total income from NHS during this period was £115,843.
Still there was no suspicion of the ‘staggering lies’ on his CV.
At St Margaret’s, he was ‘charming and personable,’ by all accounts, even though he had requested that everyone address him as ‘Dr Andrewes’.
‘He got away with it for a very long time,’ said the former member of staff. She compared Andrewes to Frank Abagnale, the legendary U.S. fraudster whose exploits were turned into the movie Catch Me If You Can.
Eventually however, Mr Andrewes lies were exposed.
Irregularities in the way grants from the Department of Health were obtained and spent on building projects at the hospice had led to an internal investigation at St Margaret’s which, eventually, resulted in two former members of staff pleading guilty to fraud last year.
During this process, clinical director Ann Lee discovered Jon Andrewes’s CV on computer records at St Margaret’s.
In 2017, Andrewes was exposed and convicted of fraud, jailed for two years and ordered to hand over all his remaining assets of £96,737
Key dates and career details on his original CV for the chief executive’s job at St Margaret’s were significantly different from the CV he used to become chairman of Torbay NHS Care Trust, which was markedly different again from the CV he submitted to get the same position at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.
The discrepancies uncovered by Ann Lee, who has now taken over as chief executive at St Margaret’s, were brought to the attention of the police and the NHS anti- fraud team.
None of the universities Andrewes claimed to have received degrees from, they discovered, had any record of his attendance.
Much of his employment history had also been re-written so it included stints at the Home Office and HM Revenue & Customs in 1969 — when he would have been only 16.
‘It beggars belief that no due diligence was carried out when he was appointed to these roles in the NHS,’ says an NHS source.
The top NHS jobs landed by former builder who faked his CV pocketing him more than £100,000 of taxpayers’ money
Chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, Somerset
In 2004, Andrewes was appointed the role at the palliative care charity in Taunton, Somerset, on an initial salary of £75,000-a-year.
Non-Executive Director of the Torbay NHS Trust in Devon
Appointed in 2007, Andrewes ran the trust for nearly a decade. He received a net income from the former of £62,156.
Chairman of the Royal Cornwall NHS Hospital Trust
Appointed in 2015, Andrewes, received a net income of £33,687.
He was also paid an additional £20,000 for chairing, on a temporary basis, another Devon health partnership in 2013.
His total income from NHS during this period: £115,843.
Mr Andrewes was forced to quit, claiming ill-health a year into his tenure at Cornish Trust and announced he was retiring early from the NHS in 2016.
He was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court in 2017, prosecuted for fraud and obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and jailed for two years.
‘Your outwardly prestigious life was based upon a lie, and more accurately a series of staggering lies,’ the judge told him before passing sentence.
‘They were repeated lies about your education and employment background and your experience, lies by which you obtained responsible positions which you at least probably, if not certainly, would not otherwise obtained, positions in which honesty and integrity were essential qualities. Of course, because of your fraud, you received an income you should not have received.
‘Above all, what you did means that you were performing responsible roles which you should not have been performing and inevitably that causes real damage to the public’s confidence in the organisations which you deceived.’
They agreed that in CV fraud cases where someone has ‘given full value for the earnings received’ it would normally be disproportionate to confiscate all net earnings, but ‘it will be proportionate to confiscate the difference between the higher earnings made as a result of the fraud and the lower earnings that the defendant would have made had they not committed the fraud’.
Despite the ruling, the confiscation order was overturned by the Court of Appeal two years ago when judges ruled he had given ‘full value’ for his salary in the jobs he did.
Now, more than five years after pleading guilty to fraud charges, Andrewes has had the financial penalty reinstated by the Supreme Court and must pay back nearly £100,000.
In their ruling, Supreme Court justices described how Andrewes, who worked as a social worker during part of his career, lied about having degrees from Bristol University, an MBA from Edinburgh University and that he was studying for a PhD at Plymouth University.
He also ‘inflated’ and gave ‘false’ information on his work experience, claiming to have held senior management roles and once been seconded to the Home Office.
Andrewes, who lives in Devon with his wife Penny who has remained by his side, has now been released from prison.
Had the Court of Appeal not ruled in his favour, Andrewes would have had to relinquish the profits from the sale of their previous house, along with premium bonds in his name, an insurance payout for a Seat Leon car, and a barge he owns in Amsterdam; he would have also had to cash in a pension plan.
Jon Andrewes has now embarked on a new life running a curtains and blinds company in South Devon with wife Penny.
‘I’m sorry he doesn’t want to talk about this,’ she said when questioned. ‘I understand why you’ve come but, I’m sorry, we’ve been through enough.’
NHS Improvement, which appointed Andrewes, said ‘the range of checks necessary for these type of appointments’ had been expanded in the wake of the controversy.