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Five-year ban for would-be journalist who forged NCTJ certificate

Rachel ManbyA would-be journalist has been banned from sitting examinations for five years after forging a qualification certificate to obtain their “dream job”.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has announced the sanction against the former candidate, who used the fraudulent document to support a job application.

The candidate, unnamed in the NCTJ’s report of the case, had falsely claimed they were a gold standard NCTJ qualified journalist, using a forged document created from an image of a genuine certificate that had been posted online.

The fraud was discovered after a database check revealed that, though enrolled on two accredited courses, the candidate had never sat any NCTJ assessments.

According to the NCTJ, The candidate accepted their behaviour constituted malpractice under its malpractice and maladministration policy.

They told the investigation team they had panicked after being accepted for their “dream job” and that they wished to complete the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism qualification in the future.

NCTJ head of awarding Rachel Manby, pictured, said: “This was an unprecedented case of qualification fraud and the sanction goes some way to reflect the seriousness and acute dismay with which the NCTJ views the behaviour of the individual concerned.

“It not only constitutes a blatant deception to gain employment but betrays the commitment, hard work and honesty of the thousands of candidates who every year sit rigorous examinations to earn kite-mark qualifications which reflect their talent and dedication and give potential employers continuing trust in the quality of NCTJ applicants.

“Though extremely rare, instances of such serious malpractice cannot be allowed in any way to compromise the validity of certificates or the trust employers are entitled to hold in the integrity of the NCTJ’s regulated qualifications.

“The NCTJ carefully considered all relevant information before reaching its decision and imposing the sanction that was considered appropriate in all the circumstances.

“The ban of five years should be taken as an indication of the seriousness of the offence and the NCTJ’s determination to treat any similar breaches with the harshness they deserve.

“It also carries a restriction of such length so as to not disbar the individual from a future career which carries the distinction of an NCTJ qualification, should they pursue it.

“The NCTJ has introduced QR codes on all our certificates to further protect their security and to allow employers to authenticate them online.

“However, it is strongly recommended that employers also contact us directly to verify NCTJ qualifications achieved by prospective employees, to ensure this incident cannot be repeated.”