Apsana Begum's ex-husband may be behind housing bids, trial hears

Apsana Begum MP, Poplar and Limehouse

Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum - Credit: Office of Apsana Begum

Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum has told a court that her ex-husband could have been controlling the bank account used for bids at the centre of housing fraud allegations. 

Ms Begum has denied three indictments of fraud and is appearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court for a trial which is expected to run for six to eight days.

The 31-year-old is accused of failing to disclose information to Tower Hamlets Council in applications during three separate periods between January 2013 and March 2016.

As part of the trial, which opened yesterday, Ms Begum’s defence lawyer said her bids for council housing could have been made by her partner, Tower Hamlets councillor Ehtashamul Haque.

Tower Hamlets Council anti-fraud specialist Lino Messore confirmed that Ms Begum’s application for social housing said her family home had three bedrooms, while applications made by her aunt in 2009 and her mother in 2013 listed it as having four.

He also agreed that an application in Ms Begum name continued to make bids after she moved out to live with Mr Haque on May 21, 2013, until March the following year.

The Poplar and Limehouse MP moved back to her family home on October 23, 2015, and she later reached the top of the housing shortlist.

But Ms Begum’s lawyer, Helen Law, said investigators failed to “join the dots”, including that the complaint about her applications in 2019, which sparked the council’s investigation, was made by a relative of Mr Haque.

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Ms Law argued that since the bids were placed on consecutive Fridays while Ms Begum was living with Mr Haque, he could have been controlling her account.

“The pattern you can see on the bids is consistent with somebody else bidding on the house in the period from when she lives in the house (with Mr Haque) and when she leaves,” she said.

“This would have been a bit of a red flag that maybe that was consistent with that happening… that maybe Ms Begum could have been telling the truth that Mr Haque was on her account.”

Ms Begum later split from her husband, the court heard, partly due to his “coercive and controlling behaviour”.

She has released a statement while the trial is ongoing: "I am vigorously contesting these charges. 

“The ongoing legal proceedings mean that I cannot and will not be making any further public comment during the trial.

“I want to thank my lawyers and supporters for their help at this time.”

The trial continues.

Copy supplied by Laura Parnaby, PA