Judge threatens Tower Hamlets ‘benefit fraud’ councillor with arrest after no show at court

A judge has threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of a serving Tower Hamlets councillor after she failed to show up to court to face benefit fraud charges.

Shelina Akhtar, an independent councillor for Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, must appear before Snaresbrook Crown Court this afternoon.

Her Honour Judge L Kamill did not accept a doctor’s letter which said the councillor was unfit to attend the first day of her trial.

Judge Kamill said: “I just can’t accept that she’s not well enough to come to court.”

She gave Akhtar the option of appearing at court voluntarily this afternoon or a warrant for her arrest would be issued.

Addressing Akhtar’s counsel, she said: “I’d like you to phone her and tell her to get here or she’ll be brought here if she refuses.”

Akhtar, 33, of Blackwall Way, Poplar, faces charges of fraud and failing to notify a change in circumstances in relation to housing benefit and council tax benefit to both Tower Hamlets Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

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Her sister, Hazera Akhtar, 22, of Glasshouse Fields, Shadwell, faces similar charges and was present at court today.

The case will resume this afternoon.