Phillip Hufton, 52, from Cheadle Hume in Cheshire, lied about work trips abroad and swindled the NHS out of almost £350,000
A fraudster who lied on his CV and lived a ‘lavish lifestyle’ after swindling almost £350,000 from the NHS has been jailed.
Phillip Hufton, 52, from Cheadle Hume in Cheshire, enjoyed foreign holidays and racked up the cash for 17 months after lying to get a job where he faked expenses and went on imaginary business trips – all funded by the NHS.
He claimed he was a doctor with a wealth of qualifications and that he had a glittering career in the army.
But he actually had a nursing degree, had been in the Territorial Army and posed for photos with fake medals bought online.
The lies helped him land a job as a business development manager for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust based at Fulbourn Hospital near Cambridge.
His role was to promote the trust in the Middle East.
He was finally sacked in January 2016 after an internal investigation found several discrepancies in his work time and expenses.
One fake work trip saw him run up a £9,000 expenses bill when he was actually on holiday in the US.
He had claimed to be visiting refugees in Jordan at the time but GPS pinpointed him as being in the US and the Caribbean.
The brazen fraudster even used a fake email account to authorise £13,000 of expenses while on the bogus break.
The fake trip took place in October 2015 and Hufton told the trust he was working in Amman, Jordan visiting refugee camps.
He even emailed a photo of a refugee camp he had found on Google to a colleague, with the title ‘off to the office’.
He also claimed to have been in the army where he saved ‘countless lives in the UN’, before showing off photos of himself wearing fake medals.
A court heard on Thursday that while he worked at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) he also pretended to have cancer and took time off for surgery which was never carried out.
Sergeant Andy Denzey of Cambridgeshire Police said: ‘In interview with myself and other officers, Hufton initially stated all of this was a big misunderstanding.
‘However, over the next hour and a half he eventually admitted that he lied about almost everything. His lies were almost beyond belief.
One trip saw him claim to be visiting refugees in Jordan – when he was actually on holiday in the US
‘He admitted to claiming to be in Jordan whilst actually on holiday in America with his family. He admitted to lying about having cancer.
‘Hufton caused a great inconvenience and a large amount of stress to all involved, turning his hand to criminality in order to fund his personal life.’
Cambridge Crown Court heard Hufton also claimed to hold membership of numerous professional bodies, such as the Royal Society of Medicine, but these were all found to have been false or had lapsed.
In December 2015, Hufton booked to stay at the Marriott Hotel in Cambridge and booked a flight to Doha for a four-day trip.
The unauthorised trip cost the trust £2,837 and at the time Hufton had been off work due to ‘illness’.
Enquiries about Hufton’s CV found the majority of his educational claims to be false.
He claimed to have a PhD, a master’s degree and five other diplomas.
In reality, he only had a Bachelor of Nursing Degree but continued to call himself a doctor.
At a previous court hearing, Hufton pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation on the basis that the financial benefit to him was only £173,000 and not the full amount of £349,383.
During sentencing, Judge Jonathan Cooper told Hufton the offences had helped him fund a lavish lifestyle and he later took steps to make it harder for his employer to report his actions.
Hufton was jailed for five years.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘The actions of Philip Hufton were reprehensible. He had come to the Trust highly recommended and with good references.
‘However, at a time when NHS finances are under severe pressure, he decided to defraud taxpayers’ money for personal gain.
‘He also sought to win the trust of staff with his series of lies.
‘He may well have committed further crimes if hadn’t been for the diligence of colleagues who raised initial concerns, and our internal investigators who then alerted Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
‘We would like to thank police for their support and the painstaking investigation they undertook, and the sentence given to Philip Hufton is entirely appropriate.’