Apsana Begum MP found not guilty of housing fraud

Apsana Begum MP. Pic: Parliament

Apsana Begum, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, has been cleared of charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information relating to her Tower Hamlets council housing application.

A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court dismissed the prosecution by Tower Hamlets Council which alleged that the cost to the council was £63,928 because someone else on the housing list had to be given accommodation elsewhere.

The court heard that the Labour MP had applied to go on Tower Hamlets Council’s social housing register in 2011 and was placed on the priority housing list after claiming to be living in an “overcrowded” three-bedroom property in Poplar with five members of her family.

But the prosecution argued that the property actually had four bedrooms and Ms Begum had deliberately lied in order to move herself higher up the council register.

They added that the Labour MP had failed to disclose that there were only four people living at the address by 2014 after her father died and her aunt moved out of the property.

But Ms Begum repeatedly claimed there had only ever been three bedrooms in the house and that she had never had her own bedroom.

During the trial, the court heard that Ms Begum left the house in May 2013 due to her family’s hostility towards her desire to marry Tower Hamlets councillor Ehtasham Haque.

Ms Begum said she feared becoming the victim of honour-based violence and had reported her brother to the police after he followed her to work.

In a statement following the verdicts, Ms Begum thanked those who stood by her during the trial.

“This case has been driven by malicious intent and has caused me great distress and damage to my reputation,” she said. “I would like to say a sincere thank you to all my legal team and all those who have shown me solidarity, support and kindness.

“As a survivor of domestic abuse facing these vexatious charges, the last 18 months of false accusations, online sexist, racist, and Islamophobic abuse, and threats to my safety, have been exceedingly difficult.

“I also thank the jury for vindicating me, and the judge for presiding over this trial. I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else

“I would now like to get on with my job of representing my constituents – opposing the negligent COVID decisions made by (Prime Minister Boris) Johnson’s reckless Tory government which has caused so many families to lose loved ones who should still be with us today and so much hardship that could have been avoided.

“My comrades and friends, in Poplar and Limehouse, and beyond, have stood by me, I have and will always stand by them.”.

A Tower Hamlets spokesperson said the council accepted the jury’s verdict.

“We have a duty to investigate any allegations of housing fraud in order to ensure public money is spent correctly and that those waiting on our housing register are treated fairly,” a statement released by the council said.

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