Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Labour - Mayor - Fraud

Sep 13 2007

by Paula Owens, Liverpool Daily Post

Mayor of Sefton John Walker arrives at Sefton Magistrates' Court with his wife, Catie

FIVE former Sefton mayors are expected to testify next week against another ex-mayor, John Walker, when he stands trial for benefit fraud.

Walker, 56, and his wife Catie, 47, will both appear at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday charged with several offences, including four counts of conspiracy.

The ex-Labour councillor is accused of failing to declare his mayoral and councillor allowances to the Department for Work and Pensions.

He is also alleged to have falsified disability living allowance claim forms by misrepresenting the true extent of his needs and capabilities. Walker and his wife, of Farmer Place, Bootle, deny all the charges.

Documents to which the Daily Post has obtained access reveal that those asked to appear as witnesses for the prosecution include former mayors David Pearson (Conservative), Kevin Clusky (Labour), Anthony Hill (Lib-Dem), Maureen Fearn (Lib-Dem) and Brian Rimmer (Lib-Dem).

It is also understood that Lib-Dem council leader Tony Robertson, Conservative leader Paula Parry, Sefton’s chief executive Graham Haywood, assistant chief executive Craig Galloway and the authority’s legal director, Caroline Elwood, will all be asked to give evidence against Mr Walker.

The trial is expected to last least two weeks
A spokeswoman for the DWP said they could not comment at this stage for fear of jeopardising the legal process.

Walker was arrested for alleged benefit fraud on January 9, 2006. He continued as Mayor of Sefton until he stepped down from his seat in Crosby’s Manor ward in May of that year.

Born in Liverpool and educated in West Derby and Roby, Walker studied business management at university before going to work for a large Merseyside engineering firm.

In the following years, he worked for a number of national retail companies, moving from the role of management trainee to hold senior management positions. He later set up a management consultancy.

After suffering a serious illness in the early 1990s, the father-of-one carried out voluntary work.

He was controversially appointed Mayor of Sefton after only six months of public service.

Members from all parties were said to be “disgusted” after the Labour group nominated him, feeling he had not served as a councillor for long enough to receive the honour.

Since Sefton council was formed in 1973, mayor-designates had served a minimum of six years and nominations were traditionally voted for unanimously.

However, on his appointment, 30 councillors voted for, six against and 17 abstained.


Former Mayor Jailed For fraud

A FORMER Mayor and Mayoress of Sefton were jailed today for benefit fraud.

Over seven years, John, 57, and Catie Walker, 48, of Farmer's Place, Bootle, claimed more than £36,000 that they were not entitled to from the Department of Works and Pensions.

Today, at Liverpool Crown Court, Mr Walker was sentenced to 15 months in prison and his wife to eight months.

Judge Brian Lewis told Walker he had “stained the reputation of the mayoralty and let down those who put you there”.

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