Apsana Begum housing fraud: Labour MP denies withholding information
Apsana Begum, MP
LABOUR MP Apsana Begum has denied “deliberately and dishonestly” obtaining social housing as the prosecutor claimed in the court that she cheated a council out of £64,000 in a housing scam by deliberately withholding information to boost chances of obtaining a council flat, reports said.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Wednesday (21) how the current MP for Poplar and Limehouse in east London manipulated the rules by withholding crucial information in an attempt to “jump the queue” to obtain social housing.
London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is bringing the prosecution, has alleged that housing the MP cost the local authority £63,928.
The court heard Begum applied to join the social housing register in 2011 and was on the list until 2016. Her initial application was based on the fact she was living in “overcrowded conditions in her family home”.
As per the reports, at the time of application in 2011, Begum was living in overcrowded conditions, a three-bedroom property in Poplar, with her mother, father, brother, aunt and sister. She said in her application that she shared her bedroom with her two siblings, a fact that “made her a higher priority in the social housing queue,” the court heard.
However, in 2013, it appeared that Begum’s father died and her aunt moved out and the living room had been converted into a fourth bedroom so she was living in a four-bedroom house with three other people, suggesting she had her own room by the time.
The housing application has a clause where any change in the living circumstances needs to be informed to the housing authorities, which the Labour MP did not comply with despite having complete knowledge about it, the prosecutor claimed in the court.
“And it wasn’t that Ms Begum had simply forgotten about her application. Between January and May 2013, Ms Begum was routinely making bids on social housing properties on the strength of her Band 2- overcrowded status,” Daily Mail quoted prosecutor James Marsland.
The second charge of fraud related to the time when Begum moved out of the family home and went to live with her partner at the time, Ehtashamul Haque, in Poplar between May 2013 and March 2014, the court heard.
However, this time, she did inform about her change in living conditions but to a different department, which the prosecutor claimed that she did deliberately as she knew well that informing “this would negatively affect her application.”
While the prosecutor claimed that she continued to bid even after moving out of her family home, the MP declared in the court that she did not bid at the time and they must have been made by her “extremely controlling” partner without informing her.
After the breakdown of her marriage in 2015, she moved back to her family home, something which she again failed to inform Housing Options. She was allocated the house in February 2016.
Begum said she “vigorously contests these malicious and false allegations”.
The trial continues.