A DISGRACED former hospice and NHS chief who earned more than £1 million by lying his way into three top jobs is fighting an attempt to strip him of his assets.

John Andrewes, former chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice, in Taunton, says he is entitled to keep the large salary he was paid because he worked hard and gave value for money.

Andrewes, who is also a former Royal Cornwall NHS Trust chairman and social worker, talked his way into health service management after forging his CV to make it look as if he had an impressive string of degrees.

He was jailed for two years at Exeter Crown Court in March 2017 and has now served his sentence and been released.

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He is fighting an attempt under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to recover the money he earned under false pretences.

His legal team claim that he did not derive any benefit from crime because he performed all his jobs well and was entitled to be paid for his work.

They also say it would be disproportionate to strip him of assets which he built up while running the hospice in Taunton, a community care trust in Torbay and the main hospital trust in Cornwall.

The prosecution say it is in the public interest that he should be seen not to have profited from his deception.

Miss Ros Collins, defending, said Andrewes had performed excellently in all the jobs he carried out and there had been no suggestion he was overpaid or did not earn his salary.

She said his work had been ‘of a very high standard’ and it would be oppressive to consider his legitimate rewards as the proceeds of crime.

She said: “He paid back all the money he was paid by working. He only received payment for the work that he did.”

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Mr Cameron Brown, prosecuting, said: “There was a conscious misrepresentation and there are public policy reasons why he should be deprived of his earnings.”

A Judge at Exeter Crown Court will rule later this month on an application by Andrewes to have the POCA proceedings thrown out.

Recorder Mr Martin Meeke QC reserved judgment after a half-day hearing which centred on a series of previous cases, one of which went all the way to the European Court.

The other cases, known as precedents or authorities by lawyers, mainly concerned illegal immigrants who earned wages while working unlawfully in Britain.

A further case concerned a contractor who obtained work on the railways corruptly.

Recorder Mr Meeke said: “There is, as I see it, no specific authority in the situation which I am asked to deal with. There is a possibility that whatever decision I reach, one side or the other will want to appeal it.”

Andrewes, 64, of Flood Street, Totnes, and formerly of High Street, Topsham, was jailed last year when he admitted deception and two counts of fraud.

The judge in that case heard how he secured a string of senior jobs including the chairmanship of the Royal Cornwall Hospital trust by making false claims about his background, experience, and academic achievements.

He was paid more than £1million over more than a decade after lying his way into a job as chief executive of St Margaret's Hospice in Taunton and using this as a springboard to become chairman of the Torbay Care Trust.

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St Margaret's Hospice, Bishop's Hull, Taunton

His lies were only exposed once he had moved on again to running the biggest NHS trust in Cornwall, where staff became suspicious and a check was made on his CV.

It found a trail of falsified degrees and diplomas dating back to when he got his job at the hospice by claiming to have run a charity when in fact he was a humble youth worker.

Andrewes earned more than £100,000 a year in top jobs at the St Margaret's Hospice, the Torbay Care Trust, and the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust, where he worked until his fraud was unmasked in 2015.

He styled himself as Dr Andrewes and falsified not only his educational qualifications but also his work experience with a series of charities.

He claimed to have been managing director of a youth charity called Groundworks when in fact he had spent most of his career as a probation officer, customs officer or youth worker.

His only formal qualification was a Higher Education Certificate in Social Work from Bristol University.

In a series of job applications, he provided CVs which claimed her had a PhD in Leadership and Success from Plymouth University, where he said he had written a thesis called Women in Power.

He lied about having a Masters in Business Administration from Edinburgh University and a degree from Bristol. He also claimed to have a Diploma in Advanced Accountancy.

Police were called in when questions were raised about his background when he was chairman of the Cornish trust. His former home at Christow was raided and the false CVs seized.