Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum denies fraud allegations in court
- Credit: PA
The MP for Poplar and Limehouse has denied three counts of fraud after allegedly failing to say she had moved home after applying for social housing.
Apsana Begum, 30, applied to go on Tower Hamlets Council’s social housing register on July 22, 2011 because she was living in “overcrowded accommodation”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday, December 8.
The Labour politician is accused of failing to notify the housing service during three periods between January 18, 2013 and March 31, 2016 after she moved address.
The council, which is bringing the prosecution, allege the cost to the authority was £63,928 because someone else on the housing list had to be given accommodation elsewhere.
Ms Begum, who won her seat in the general election last December, denied each of the three charges when they were read in court.
She stood to confirm her name but Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram allowed her to write down her address so it was not disclosed in open court, following an application from her lawyers.
Raj Chada, defending, told the judge there are heightened security concerns since the death of MP Jo Cox, and there had been a “campaign of harassment” against Ms Begum over issues with “a member of the Labour Party and his supporters”.
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Mr Ikram said: “I think she is safely identified for the purposes of press because she is an MP. There is not going to be any confusion of who she is.”
Ms Begum faces three similar fraud charges alleging she dishonestly failed to disclose to Tower Hamlets Council that she was not living in “overcrowded conditions” after applying to join the housing list on July 22 2011.
After a hearing lasting around 15 minutes, Mr Ikram said: “I’m going to send this case to the Crown Court at Snaresbrook. You will appear there on January 5 at 9.30am.
“You will have unconditional bail. That means you must be there on time. If you are not there at 9.30am that could amount to an offence in itself. Do you understand?”
Ms Begum replied: “Yes.”
She has previously said in a statement that she “vigorously contests these malicious and false allegations”.