Former Tower Hamlets councillor must pay back £110,000 housing fraud gains - or face returning to jail

Former councillor Shahed Ali. Picture: Kois Miah/Tower Hamlets Council

Former councillor Shahed Ali. Picture: Kois Miah/Tower Hamlets Council - Credit: Kois Miah/Tower Hamlets Council

A former councillor who was jailed for housing fraud must pay £180,000 or face returning to prison.

Shahed Ali, who represented Whitechapel ward as a member of the banned Tower Hamlets First party, has been served with a confiscation order requiring him to pay back the £110,000 he made as a result of his fraud.

In addition to repaying Tower Hamlets Council and the government, he must also pay the council’s legal costs of £70,000.

The investigation into Ali began after he applied for social housing in 2009, claiming to be sleeping on a relative’s sofa, and was given a one-bedroom council flat in Christian Street, off Brick Lane.

However, he failed to disclose that he owned a property in Manchester Road, and had also inherited a former council flat in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, that had been purchased under Right to Buy by his mother.

The council became suspicious after he applied for a single person’s discount for council tax on the flat, while he was also registered to pay council tax elsewhere.

An investigation into Ali found that as well as the Manchester Road property, he also owned two others in Frinton on Sea, on the north Essex coast, including a curry house downstairs.

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As a result, the council charged Ali with fraudulently failing to disclose his ownership of 2 residential properties between October 2009 and February 2016.

He was jailed for five months in October 2016 after pleading guilty to housing fraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court - having denied the charges for months.

Will Tuckley, chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “This is a quite staggering case of fraud. We are pleased that our detailed investigations have paid off, not just in terms of a prison sentence but also in clawing back public money.

“Benefits and council housing are there to help our most vulnerable residents.

“Fraudsters should know that we have specialist investigators looking into files every day and we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

When sentenced in 2016, Ali was also disqualified from office as a councillor and barred from standing again for five years.

He was first elected for former MP George Galloway’s Respect Party in 2006, then for Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First Party in 2010.