Poplar MP acquitted of Tower Hamlets housing fraud
Alastair Lockhart, local democracy reporter
- Credit: PA Images
Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum has been acquitted of housing fraud against Tower Hamlets Council.
She burst into tears and collapsed as she was found not guilty on three charges of fraud.
The jury reached their verdict on the second day of their deliberation at Snaresbrook Crown Court, after six hours, at the end of an eight-day trial that began on July 21.
Ms Begum denied all the charges, saying that her “controlling and coercive” ex-husband made bids for social housing without her knowledge and that she had kept the council informed of her living situation.
The prosecution had accused her of failing to inform the council of changes to her circumstances after making an initial social housing application in 2011.
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Ms Begum was given a social housing studio flat on the Isle of Dogs in March 2016.
She first made an application for housing while living with her parents in Poplar on the basis of overcrowding.
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The prosecution used an application letter to the court written by her aunt which stated that the property had four bedrooms, not three.
Ms Begum maintained throughout the trial that the property always had three bedrooms and at no point did she have a room of her own.
Defence lawyer Helen Law insisted that Ms Begum's ex-husband Ehtashamul Haque, who is now a Tower Hamlets councillor, controlled her financial affairs when they were living together between 2013 and 2015.
The couple separated in 2015 and Ms Begum moved back into her family home, where she had made her first housing application.
The jury accepted her evidence that she called the council to inform them about changes to her circumstances both in 2013 and 2015.
Ms Begum is expected to give a statement later today.