Labour MP Apsana Begum cleared of housing fraud

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Apsana Begum - Kirsty O'Connor/Julia Quenzler/PA/SWNS
Apsana Begum - Kirsty O'Connor/Julia Quenzler/PA/SWNS

A Labour MP has been cleared of housing fraud and said that “vexatious” claims led to 18 months of sexist and racist online abuse.

Apsana Begum, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse in London, had faced three charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information relating to her applications for council housing and benefits between 2013 and 2016.

Ms Begum applied to go on Tower Hamlets Council’s social housing register in 2011, claiming she was living in an “overcrowded” property.

She moved out of the flat in 2013 and was awarded a council flat three years later.

The MP was cleared of all charges on Friday afternoon at Snaresbrook Crown Court as she spoke of the “great damage” that had been done to her reputation.

“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 said.

“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.”

During the course of the trial, Ms Begum said her brother had locked her inside her living room in May 2013 and, fearing she would become a victim of honour-based violence, she fled the family home with only a handbag.

Tower Hamlets Council, which had brought the prosecution claiming Ms Begum had cost the local authority almost £64,000, said it had a “duty” to investigate the allegations but now considered the matter closed.

Ms Begum, who was endorsed by the Left-wing organisation Momentum, won her seat with a majority of 28,904 in 2019.

She is the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence and Abuse.

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