Ecologist cleared of lying about her qualifications to get a job at Suffolk firm

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

An ecologist accused of lying about her qualifications to get a job with a Suffolk company has been cleared of fraud by a jury.

Before Ipswich Crown Court was 48-year-old Elizabeth "Hetty" Wakeford, of Compton Terrace, London, who denied three offences of fraud relating to claims that she held a bat level two licence and a great crested newt licence.

She was cleared of all three offences.

Wakeford was arrested at James Blake Associates in Lavenham in March last year after it was allegedly discovered she had misled them about her qualifications.

Following her arrest Wakeford told officers she was an "accredited" person which meant that she could work under someone else's bat licence.

She said this meant she had worked with someone with a bat licence who had given her a letter enabling her to act under their licence.

"The prosecution says the defendant has never held such qualifications and the reason she held herself out to hold such qualifications was to secure positions of employment and therefore payment of salaries to which she would not have been in post for," said David Wilson, prosecuting.

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The court heard that in 2017 James Blake Associates, which specialises in landscape architecture, planning and ecology, advertised for a professional field ecologist who ideally had a bat and great crested newt licence.

Wakeford applied for the role and submitted a covering letter and CV setting out her assertion that she held both a bat and great crested newt licence, said Mr Wilson.

During an interview with the company in April 2017 Wakeford allegedly repeated the claim that she held the relevant licences.

Mr Wilson said if the owner of the company had known that Wakeford didn't hold the bat and great crested newt licences she wouldn't' have been short listed let alone given the job.

Wakeford told police that when she applied for the job at James Blake Associates she told them them she was an accredited person.

When officers told her that her CV stated that she had a bat level 2 licence and there was no mention of her being an accredited person she said this was a mistake.

During her evidence her barrister Michael Levy asked her if she had "puffed up" her qualifications to con employers into giving her a job she replied "No."

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