Wednesday, February 21

Apsana Begum MP cleared of housing fraud

The Labour MP Apsana Begum has been cleared by a jury over claims of housing fraud, in a prosecution brought by Tower Hamlets council, which claimed she had withheld information about her circumstances to obtain social housing.

The Poplar and Limehouse MP, who was first elected in 2019 with a 28,904 majority, was acquitted on three counts of housing fraud between 2013 and 2016 at Snaresbrook crown court in east London following a week-long trial.

The council accused Begum of costing it almost £64,000 by not notifying it she was no longer living in overcrowded housing, as was the case when she first sought social housing, because she had moved in with her partner, Ehtashamul Haque.

But Begum said she had notified the council for council tax purposes, that she was in a difficult personal period due to family reasons, and that the “controlling and coercive” Haque had taken over her affairs.

In a statement after her acquittal, Begum said the case had caused her great distress. 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. She added: I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.