Apsana Begum: Labour MP pleads not guilty to housing fraud

Apsana Begum court sketch

image copyrightBBC/Julia Quenzler

A Labour MP for east London has denied “deliberately and dishonestly” obtaining social housing.

Apsana Begum, 31, pleaded not guilty to three counts of fraud for failing to disclose information in council home applications.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard it related to three periods between January 2013 and March 2016.

Tower Hamlets Council, which is bringing the prosecution, alleged it cost the local authority £63,928.

Ms Begum said she “vigorously contests these malicious and false allegations”.

Prosecutor James Marsland told the court that the Poplar and Limehouse MP, who won her seat in the general election in December 2019, had applied to go on the council’s social housing register on 22 July 2011.

Ms Begum told the council she had been living in “overcrowded accommodation” with her family, the court heard.

Apsana Begum

image copyrightUK Parliament

Mr Marsland said: “Over three distinct periods of time, Ms Begum deliberately and dishonestly did not inform the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Housing Options of significant changes in her circumstances… in order to gain a social housing tenancy.”

Changing properties

The counts relate to separate periods between 18 January and 21 May 2013, 21 May 2013 and 23 March 2014, and 28 October 2015 and 21 March 2016.

Mr Marsland said Ms Begum attempted to gain social housing in the first period by claiming she lived in an overcrowded three-bedroom house with her family and did not have a bedroom of her own, which made her a higher priority in the social housing queue.

However, he said that the property had four bedrooms, according to a social housing application made in 2009 by Ms Begum’s aunt, who also lived in the house.

Mr Marsland said Ms Begum later moved into a different property with her then-partner Ehtashamul Haque, without informing the council, where she lived for more than two years.

The MP entered Parliament with a 28,904 majority in the 2019 election, having beaten five other candidates for her seat.

The trial continues.

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