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Ecologist denies falsifying bat qualifications

PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 June 2019

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

An ecologist accused of fraud denied lying about her qualifications to get a job with a Suffolk company when she was interviewed by police, a court has heard.

An ecologist accused of fraud denied lying about her qualifications to get a job with a Suffolk company when she was interviewed by police, a court has heard.

Elizabeth Wakeford, known as Hetty, was arrested at James Blake Associates in Lavenham in March last year after it was allegedly discovered she had misled them about her qualifications, Ipswich Crown Court, heard.

Wakeford, of Compton Terrace, London, has denied three offences of fraud relating to claims that she held a bat level 2 licence and a great crested newt licence.

Following her arrest Wakeford told officers she was an "accredited" person which meant 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 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 she held the relevant licences.

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

"The issues caused by this fraud has placed James Blake Associates in a difficult position as survey commissions have been undertaken when the defendant did not have the licenses claimed," says Mr Wilson.

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

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

The trial continues.

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