NHS boss caught up in law degree controversy quits

Mason Fitzgerald has been appointed new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Mason Fitzgerald has been appointed new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: NSFT

An NHS boss who claimed to have a law degree from a university he never graduated from has withdrawn his application to take over the region’s mental health trust. 

Mason Fitzgerald was due to become chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) in April.

But he will now return to the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), where he was seconded from, and the NSFT has started recruiting for a new chief executive. 

Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: NSFT

The NSFT appointed investigators to carry out an inquiry - Credit: NSFT

He was appointed in December after working as the NSFT’s deputy chief executive for the last year.

But in February the BBC revealed that his LinkedIn profile, NHS board papers and a medical journal wrongly stated that Mr Fitzgerald had a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from the University of Georgia. He had never graduated.

He later changed his LinkedIn profile to make it clear a degree had not been awarded.

The NSFT and ELFT hired law firm Capsticks to investigate last month.

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The NSFT said that the investigation found it had “robust recruitment processes in place,” but it should “strengthen the process” when submitting information in its annual reports.

We have asked the NSFT if they will release the full findings of the review. 

The NSFT’s latest annual report stated Mr Fitzgerald had an LLM, as did two recent annual reports of the ELFT.

But an NSFT spokesman said Mr Fitzgerald was clear with them that he did not have a LLM from the University of Georgia when he applied for the deputy chief executive and chief executive posts.

However, that information still remains on the NSFT annual report. 

They added: “NSFT confirmed that he did have all the relevant qualifications required for the posts he applied for.”

The NSFT’s current chief executive, Jonathan Warren is retiring at the end of this month.

A message to staff sent on Friday from chair Marie Gabriel said: “We do understand how unsettling this may be for staff, service users, carers and partners.” She said they would fill the vacant leadership positions “as soon as possible”. 

A spokesman for ELFT said their own "processes" into the matter remained ongoing and therefore they could not comment.