Professor charged after fraud probe

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The Independent Online
A TOP medical professor has been charged with attempted fraud at a university and a hospital following a high-profile investigation, it was revealed last night.

Detectives from Staffordshire police have confirmed that internationally- renowned academic Professor Peter Rolfe - a leading figure in bio-tech research - is accused of conspiring to defraud Keele University and North Staffordshire Hospital Trust. His former administrator Carol Benmakroha will face the same charges. Both were bailed to appear before magistrates in Stoke-on-Trent early next year.

Professor Rolfe was a former director of the hospital's bio-medical engineering department, which has responsibility for many research projects and also maintains hi-tech equipment used for patient care.

The charges follow an 18-month fraud squad investigation into financial irregularities at both institutions.

Hospital auditors alerted police in the summer of 1997 and both Professor Rolfe and Mrs Benmakroha were suspended by the Trust running the hospital in Hartshill, Staffs.

The pair, who were later sacked, sued the trust for unfair dismissal. An industrial tribunal held in Shrewsbury adjourned the cases when they were heard in June.

The Crown Prosecution Service has spent several months considering the files before going ahead with the prosecution.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "We can confirm that Professor Peter Rolfe and Carol Benmakroha have been jointly charged with conspiracy to defraud the North Staffordshire Hospital Trust and Keele University. Both have been bailed to appear before Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates Court on January 12 1999.

"These charges come after a lengthy inquiry by Staffordshire Police and a period of consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service."

Police would not say what sums were involved.