Fire safety company director sentenced for fraud

Julian Price given 40-week suspended sentence for accreditation claim in NHS bid

The director of a fire safety company, who falsely claimed it was accredited in bids for large NHS contracts, has been sentenced for fraud following an investigation by NHS Protect.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that Julian Price, director of Cotswold Fire Group (CFG), stood to gain hundreds of thousands of pounds had his fraudulent bids been successful.

He was charged with two counts of Fraud by False Representation, contrary to section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 . He received a 40-week suspended prison sentence and a 150-hour community service order. Costs of £1,500 were also awarded.

CFG had previously won a contract with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to supply and service fire extinguishers across the trust's sites from November 2007 to October 2008. The trust terminated the contract before its expiry because they were unhappy with the standard and quality of service.

In February 2008, Price submitted unsuccessful bids for two other contracts with the same trust, for the maintenance of fire alarms and emergency lighting. The total value of the contracts was £290,000.00 over five years.

In the business of keeping hospitals safe from fire, the NHS and public expect total integrity from contractors

In his bid, Price claimed to be accredited by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), but submitted an incomplete certificate, which did not name his or any other company. The investigation found Price had not been accredited, and neither he, nor CFG, had been issued with a certificate. CFG also falsely claimed to be certificated by the Security System Alarms Inspection Board.

The company held a number of contracts nationally with NHS trusts, some in line with the NHS PASA approved contractor scheme, and other in-house contracts. Price was arrested and interviewed under caution in February 2010. He pleaded not guilty in May 2011 and did not change his plea to guilty until March 2012.

Mick Hayes, anti-fraud lead at NHS Protect,part of the NHS Business Services Authority, said following the case: “In the business of keeping hospitals safe from fire, the NHS and public expect total integrity from contractors. So it is very serious that Julian Price and his Cotswold Fire Group attempted to provide services to the NHS using false qualifications and accreditations. These standards and systems exist with good reason. Fraud is a crime, and NHS Protect will examine all allegations of fraud against the NHS, and, wherever appropriate, will launch a criminal investigation and press for the strongest sanctions.”

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