A detective has been commended for bringing to justice a hospital worker and a contractor who swindled the NHS.

Arpna Luther, 43, and Ross Elliott, 30, were jailed for plotting to defraud University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust by approving dodgy photocopier supply and service contracts.

The hospital was exposed to a loss of £200,000 by their actions.

Hospital admin manager Luther, of Hillfield Park, Muswell Hill, and contractor Elliott, of St Johns Avenue, Harlow, received 18 and 21 months respectively at Blackfriars Crown Court in January.

Lead investigator Det Con Robert Brown was honoured at Camden police’s commendation ceremony on Friday for doggedly pursuing the complex three-year enquiry, which led to their guilty pleas – and won him praise from the sentencing judge.

Handing over a commendation for exceptional commitment, initiative and dedication, acting borough commander Richard Tucker said: “In the world of CID, judge’s commendations are like hen’s teeth.”

Det Con Brown said: “You have to put trust in people and [Luther] was one of the managers, and unfortunately took advantage.

“As a detective, being told by a crown court judge that they think you’ve done a good investigation, it’s a highlight really.”

A spokesman for UCLH said: “In June 2010 UCLH’s counter-fraud team received an allegation of fraud related to two photocopier leases.

“UCLH takes a zero-tolerance stance on fraud and will take the strongest action possible to prevent, deter and investigate fraud.”