A COUNCIL air quality officer has been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work after admitting fudging pollution data.

Ann-Marie Wade, 44, of Durrington, Wiltshire, was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Thursday, December 12 after pleading guilty to deliberately submitting false air quality figures to Waverley Borough Council between March and December 2015, and a separate charge for the same offence for all of 2016.

She was handed a 12 month prison term, suspended for 12 months, and also told to pay costs of £1,500.

A third fraud charge relating to alleged fraudulently-claimed expenses during Wade’s time at the council, which she denied, will lie on her file after the Crown Prosecution Service opted not to pursue a conviction.

The Herald was in court to hear the verdict, and will be covering the case in depth in next week’s paper, on sale Thursday, December 19.

Waverley Borough Council said in a statement released after Wade’s sentencing: "The council takes the issue of air quality extremely seriously and recognises that it is an important issue for our residents.

"That is why we acted promptly by commissioning an independent audit investigation after discovering issues with the reporting and monitoring of the council’s air quality data, and subsequently asking the police to investigate.

"We are pleased with the outcome of this case and would like to thank Surrey Police for their hard work on this investigation, and the CPS for ensuring that justice prevailed.

"We will now focus on continuing to guarantee that our routine monitoring of air quality is carried out to the highest standards.

"Following our independent audit investigation, we reviewed our procedures and appointed independent contractors to carry out all of our monitoring.

"Our diffusion tube data is published online monthly and our analyser data is also published online in near real time."