Tower Hamlets councillor to face Crown Court trial

A serving Tower Hamlets councillor accused of benefit fraud is to face a higher charge.

Shelina Akhtar, who represents Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, is accused of failing to disclose that she did not live at her address at Blackwall Way, Poplar while claiming housing and council tax benefits.

After an appearance at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (July 19), the charge now includes dishonesty in making the claims, which span over a period from November 2009 to September last year.

The case will now be heard at Crown Court.

The 32-year-old councillor sat in the dock with her sister Hazera Akhtar, 21, who faces similar charges, including dishonesty in failing to notify the local authorities of a change in circumstances.

Hazera is charged with failing to disclose that she did not live at Glasshouse Fields in Limehouse, where she was registered to claim benefits.

Both women are also charged with fraud by false representation.

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The sisters have been bailed to appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court on September 15.