LONDON: Labour MP Apsana Begum will stand trial over claims she fraudulently obtained a £300,000 east London social housing council flat.The 30-year-old representative for Poplar and Limehouse was given the one-bedroom home on the Isle of Dogs by Tower Hamlets Council following the breakdown of her marriage.
The MP, who was elected to Parliament in December 2019, is accused of concealing the true state of her housing situation between 2013 and 2016, the Evening Standard has reported.
At Westminster magistrates court, Begum appeared in the dock to plead not guilty to the three charges against her. Prosecutor David Wong said Begum is accused of causing more than £63,000 of loss to the council, calculated by the “cost to the local authority of having had to house someone else in the housing list elsewhere”.
He said the allegations stem from Begum’s original application to the social housing register on July 22, 2011. According to the charges, Begum is accused of failing between January and May 2013 to tell the council she was “no longer living in overcrowded conditions” at a former address in Poplar.
It is said Begum continued to conceal her change of living circumstances from May 2013 to March 2016. The MP gave her name from the dock at today’s hearing, and answered each charge with the words: “I plead not guilty.”
Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram sent the case to Snaresbrook crown court for trial by jury, ordering the MP to next appear in court on January 5 next year.
In a statement issued through her lawyers when she was charged, the Shadwell-born MP denied any wrongdoing: “Ms Begum vigorously contests these malicious and false allegations.”
She entered not guilty pleas to three charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for yourself or another, and was freed on unconditional bail until the next hearing.