• Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Widow of millionaire faces jail after winning £385,000 slice of his fortune

FILE PHOTO: The Royal Courts of Justice building, which houses the High Court of England and Wales, is pictured in London on February 3, 2017. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE unmarried ‘widow’ of a millionaire has won a £400,000 share of his fortune in a court fight with his children, but now faces jail as her own evidence revealed she was a benefits cheat, The Daily Mail reported.

Srendarjit Kaur Jassal, 57, fought for her share from her late husband Fiaz Ali Shah’s, 64, wealth after he died of a brain haemorrhage last year and left all of his fortune to his only son, Sajad Ali Shah.

London’s High court heard that Fiaz Ali Shah died in April 2020 as the UK lurched into lockdown, leaving behind a property portfolio and £1.1 million in the bank.

According to the report, Jassal had been married to Shah in an Islamic ceremony more than 20 years ago, but the couple never underwent a civil marriage and so were not legally bound as husband-and-wife.

She sued for a payout from his wealth, insisting they had lived together as spouses and she was entitled to be supported despite being cut out of his will.

A judge at the High Court ruled in her favour, accepting her evidence that the couple had lived together as ‘husband and wife’ and handing her a £385,000 payout, The Mail report added.

However, the court had found out that Jassal had committed ‘very serious’ fraud by pretending to her local authority that she and Shah were not co-habiting in order to fraudulently claim housing benefit.

Judge Marsh ordered that a transcript of the judgment and her own evidence, in which she admitted housing benefit fraud, should be sent to the authorities for investigation.

He ordered that details of her ‘very serious’ dishonesty be passed on to her local council, the DWP and HMRC for investigation.

And he ordered that £200,000 of her payout be held back to give the authorities the chance to make a claim against her to recoup any wrongly paid benefits.

In the court, Sajad Ali Shah backed by his sisters Sabrina, Sofia and Shabana, claimed that their dad and Jassal were not truly in a marriage-like relationship after 2012.

At that point, she had moved out of their Sussex Close home and into another property in his name in nearby Salt Hill Mansions, which was paid for with housing benefits.

But she claimed the move was a sham, that she part-owned the other property, and that she had in fact gone back to Sussex Close after only a short time away.

Jassal put forward evidence from three neighbours who confirmed that Shah and Jassal had lived together as husband and wife in Sussex Close.

And she showed the judge more than 600 text messages between them, highlighting the mundane aspects of a couple sharing a life together under the same roof.

She also pointed to a Valentine’s card, sent by Shah months before he died, in which he said: ‘But I still love you, no one can love you like me.’, the report added.

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