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Former NHS trust chief executive awaits sentence after admitting fraud

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing is due to be sentenced today (10 March) after admitting fraudulently paying her husband £11,000 from her budget.
Paula Vasco-Knight

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing is due to be sentenced today after admitting fraudulently paying her husband more than 11,000 from her budget

Paula Vasco-Knight was chief executive of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust until her resignation in 2014, and the NHS England national lead for equalities.

She paid her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, 11,072 to produce a document named Transform, meant to improve leadership qualities in chief executives.

Exeter Crown Court heard that the 200-page document was never made and Dr Vasco-Knight failed to declare any interest in her husband's company.

Changed pleas

The couple were standing trial accused of fraud, but changed their pleas to guilty during the prosecution case.

Dr Vasco-Knight, who rose from

A former NHS chief executive with a background in nursing is due to be sentenced today after admitting fraudulently paying her husband more than £11,000 from her budget

Paula Vasco-Knight
Paula Vasco-Knight and her husband changed their pleas to guilty
during the prosecution case at Exeter Crown Court

Paula Vasco-Knight was chief executive of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust until her resignation in 2014, and the NHS England national lead for equalities.

She paid her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, £11,072 to produce a document named Transform, meant to improve leadership qualities in chief executives.

Exeter Crown Court heard that the 200-page document was never made and Dr Vasco-Knight failed to declare any interest in her husband's company.

Changed pleas

The couple were standing trial accused of fraud, but changed their pleas to guilty during the prosecution case.

Dr Vasco-Knight, who rose from the ranks of nurse to chief executive during her 30-year NHS career, admitted abusing her position as chief executive at the trust by authorising the payment to her husband.

Her husband also admitted fraud by submitting a false invoice to the trust in November 2013.

£200,000 budget

During the trial, jurors heard Dr Vasco-Knight oversaw a £200,000 budget for her one-day-a-week role as the national lead for equalities.

In 2012, she used the fund to buy a MacBook Pro computer with graphic design software – later admitting she could not use it.

Prosecutors claim Mr Vasco-Knight used the computer, particularly the graphic design software, for his own business Thinking Caps.

Dr Vasco-Knight was awarded a £10,000 bursary for leadership development in December 2012.

Incriminating link

The following November, her husband submitted an invoice for £11,072 from the bursary funds for producing a document entitled Transform.

Weeks later, Dr Vasco-Knight began chasing the payment, using her authorising number to approve it.

She then asked the finance department if the money could be paid as a cheque. Her husband later produced his banking details.

Those details led to a link being made between Dr Vasco-Knight and Thinking Caps.

Mr Vasco-Knight did not provide a copy of Transform, which he claimed had been completed in 2013, until his interview in March 2015.

Many of the 200 pages were blank, except for the words 'think it, write it', and passages of text were virtually verbatim from work published in 2014.


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