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Five years for ex-dean and lover who milked university of £500k

Robert Smedley, 52 and Christopher Joynson, 34, have been jailed to five years in prison each Photo: Lancashire Constabulary

A former university dean and his secret lover who fraudulently gained more than £500,000 from their employer have each been jailed for five years.

Robert Smedley, 52, created a role for Christopher Joynson, 34, when he was the dean of the faculty of education at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Smedley did not declare their relationship to the university and claimed the pair were just friends.

He failed to carry out background checks on his partner which would have revealed Joynson had previously received two police cautions for lying on job applications, police said.

Joynson himself embellished his application for "partner development officer" at Edge Hill by lying about his relevant work experience.

During Joynson's employment he invoiced the university for several hours of work that he had not completed as he transferred about £200,000 into Smedley's bank account.

Finance workers at the university became suspicious when an accountant noticed a large consultancy payment being made to the same bank account as a member of staff's salary.

Both defendants, of Frankby Road, West Kirkby, were found guilty earlier this month by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court of defrauding the university out of £513,000.

Following sentencing on Monday, Detective Constable David Wainwright of Lancashire Police's economic crime unit said:

Smedley was a member of senior management and abused that position for personal gain. He deceived the university, in particular colleagues he had known for many years and employed Joynson, his lover, in a position that he had simply devised himself.

“Joynson invoiced the university for hours and hours of work that he had not undertaken, sharing the money with Smedley. They used the cash towards expensive home improvements including a luxury kitchen.

“The financial impact on the university - the innocent victim in all this - cannot be underestimated; between the pair of them, they managed to defraud Edge Hill of over half a million pounds which could have been put to much better use.”

– DC David Wainwright from Lancashire’s Economic Crime Unit

A spokeswoman for Edge Hill University said:

We note the decision of the jury and believe that the sentences handed down to Robert Smedley and Christopher Joynson demonstrate that justice has been done.

"The sum fraudulently obtained by these men had no impact on our students or the work of the university and has subsequently been recovered from our insurers.

"We would like to thank the police and Crown Prosecution Service for their efforts in pursuing this case and bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion."

– A spokeswoman for Edge Hill University