Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lib Dem - Fraud

Councillor's fraud hearing

A FORMER Kirklees councillor tried to claim benefits by fraud, a court was told this week.

Tabasum Aslam, 33, is charged with four counts linked to benefit fraud on behalf of his mother and himself.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Aslam allegedly made four false representations, although no payments were actually made.

Aslam, formerly of Common Road, Batley, denies all the charges.

The court heard that Aslam’s mother, Mahmooda Khanum, received housing and council tax benefits while a tenant at a property in Lobley Street, Heckmondwike.

In November 2002, Aslam bought the house, along with his mother, with a £10,000 discount under a council tenant right-to-buy scheme. This meant she was no longer entitled to benefits.

Prosecuting, Howard Shaw said Aslam made a fraudulent claim on behalf of his mother who ’had little understanding of English’. Mr Shaw said Aslam ’blatantly lied on the form’ by saying his mother did not own the house.

The prosecution also alleges that Aslam made a claim for council tax benefit for himself, at a time when he was a Lib-Dem councillor for the Heckmondwike ward. The court heard he said he had only £300 in savings, but the prosecution allege his bank account contained £2,155.

He then made another false claim, the court heard.

The fourth charge concerns a letter he sent to Kirklees council claiming he was the sole landlord of the Heckmondwike property.

Aslam said he never tried to deceive anyone when he completed the housing benefit form for his mother. He thought the council simply wanted up-to-date information from his mother, who was not happy writing in English. He often filled in details and left her to sign documents.

As tenant of the Lobley Street property, she paid £30 a week in rent to the landlord, TJ Qureshi of Common Road, Batley.

Aslam said this was his real name, which he used as well as Aslam. Common Road was where he lived with his wife.

The name Aslam was used on most of his financial dealings.

Defending, Richard Clews asked Aslam: "By using the name Qureshi did you intend to deceive anyone or be dishonest?"

"No," said Aslam, who was said not to have had any financial advantage from any of the claims.

The trial continues.

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