Thursday, 12 January 2017

The end of the Peter Lewis affair at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

The court case arising out of Peter Lewis's dishonesty and corruption at The Royal Surrey County Hospital is now over after many years.

Lewis was the head of 'Infomatics' and had responsibilities for buying computer services - it didn't help that his wife was the Deputy Chief Executive of the trust.

As this 'Get Surrey' report from the sentencing hearing at Guildford Crown Court shows, Lewis cost the trust over £730, 000 even if some of that has been recovered. It certainly seems that all his dealings at the hospital were corrupt.

Meanwhile, the trust is suffering serious financial problems at the present time.

Former Royal Surrey IT director jailed after receiving £90,000 'kickback' in return for awarding IT contract - Get Surrey 

Peter Lewis was jailed for more than three years after admitting receiving corrupt payments from IT businessman Richard Moxon

A Royal Surrey County Hospital IT director who accepted corrupt payments in exchange for awarding lucrative IT contracts has been jailed for three and a half years.
Peter Lewis, 57, of Windlesham, admitted receiving corrupt payments from Richard Moxon , 41, of Wynbury in Cheshire, in return for awarding him ICT contracts worth £950,000 in the first year.

At the pair's sentencing, Paul Ozin, prosecuting, said: “It is alleged and accepted by virtue of guilty pleas that Mr Lewis was instrumental in ensuring that Mr Moxon and the companies under his control received those contracts and
that Mr Lewis received payments from Mr Moxon in the sum of approximately £90,000.”

Guildford Crown Court heard on Friday (January 6) that Lewis, as director of infomatics, had a degree of control and autonomy in awarding IT contracts to third parties.
The fraud came to light in December 2011 when the trust conducted a disciplinary investigation into Lewis’ extramarital affair with a woman in a recruitment agency that supplied the trust.

An allegation was made that he had been unfairly favouring this recruitment agency because of the affair. He was dismissed as a result of the investigation.

The court heard that Lewis’ wife, Sue Lewis, was the deputy chief executive of the trust and that although she was unaware of her husband’s actions, she resigned from her post.

The court heard the couple remain together.

Mr Ozin said: “It is Mr Moxon’s position and the Crown’s case that it is Mr Lewis who initiated the payments and Mr Moxon went along with it because he realised it was the only way he was going to get the business.”

The prosecutor said that during a meeting at a restaurant near Lewis’ home, Lewis asked to be paid in ordered to give Moxon the IT contract.

Mr Ozin said: “In the course of that meeting he [Moxon] says that Mr Lewis said to him that he could see how the proposal was of value to the trust but he could not quite see how it would benefit him.”

He added: “Mr Lewis went on to say that he wanted something from which he could benefit financially. Mr Lewis intimated to Mr Moxon that this was normal practice in the trust.

"Mr Moxon said he was surprised by the proposal but concluded the contract would not go to him unless he made the payments to Mr Lewis.

"He quite candidly described those payments as kickbacks.”

The court heard the payments were made via false invoices for consultancy work.

Mr Ozin said the trust made a loss of £732,950 as a result of the corrupt contracts but received £300,000 from selling the intellectual property rights to Mr Moxon’s IT programme, meaning the trust effectively lost a total of £432,950.

Christine Agnew, defending Lewis, said: “Dealing with the question of who is the corruptor as it were.

"I have to accept that Mr Lewis was the person that received the payments and he was the person employed by the trust but what the evidence points to is that this was very much a 50/50 business deal that was entered into quite willingly
by both of these defendants.”

She added: “His fall from grace has been spectacular. He was a hard working man who has really strived for all his working life to succeed.

"He knows his convictions will make it extraordinarily difficult for him to obtain any real employment in the future.”
Keith Mitchell, defending Moxon, said his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, unlike Lewis who only pleaded guilty one week before his trial date on November 21.

Mr Mitchell also pointed to the fact his client gave permission for his IT programme to be sold in order for the trust to recoup its losses.

Mr Mitchell said: “His primary interest in this is to do the right thing, to try and make good something that went wrong. There can be no doubt he has total remorse for what has happened and that he has tried his hardest to make good the
loss and try and somehow repair the damage that had been done."

Judge Stephen Climie, sentencing Lewis to three years and six months in jail and Moxon to 14 months, said: "Those charged with the financial management of the system are holding the very purse strings that can ultimately prevent pain and suffering or even death of patients.

"That role of financial management within the NHS was held by you Lewis in part when you became associate director for IT at the trust in 2009."

Judge Climie banned both defendants from being directors of companies for 10 years.

Alf Turner, deputy chief executive of Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said after sentencing: “In accordance with NHS and public service values, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust expects its
staff to act with honesty and integrity at all times.

“Mr Lewis fundamentally broke these foundations, grossly abusing the trust placed in him as a senior manager within the NHS.

“It is rare for members of NHS staff to be willing or able to breach their position of trust as highlighted by this case.
“Mr Lewis’ actions defrauded Royal Surrey, and the people it is here to serve, of over £80,000. Bringing him to justice has been a lengthy and complex process.

“We would like to thank the police for their ongoing support in pursuing this matter to its positive resolution and the matter to a close.”

The pair will be released from custody after serving about half their sentences, which somehow does not seem long enough for this serious breach of public trust.

There's no mention in the report about possible prosecution action to recover the loss on behalf of the trust, using The Proceeds of Crime Act. This may mean the public has lost in the region of £430,000 as a result of this fraud.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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