Fenland Council stops housing benefit to Chatteris woman on say so of mayor - only trouble was it was a bogus letter, court told
PUBLISHED: 13:40 26 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:40 26 March 2014
Fenland Council stopped housing benefits to a Chatteris woman following a letter signed by the mayor of Huntingdon- which turned out to be bogus.
At Huntingdon magistrates court today the man who persuaded the council to stop the payments was convicted of sending the letter containing false information.
Clifford Dragon, 63, of Stocking Drove, Chatteris, was ordered to pay £100 compensation, costs of £775 and £120 victim surcharge.
The letter, which was signed Bill Hensley, Mayor of Huntingdon, said that his girlfriend, who lives in Chatteris, no longer required housing benefits.
Fenland Council, which received the letter on September 13, cancelled the payments and sent a letter to the woman informing her of the decision a few days later.
Cllr Hensley told the court he then investigated why payments had been stopped and then who sent the letter. He informed the police when he discovered the letter was said to have originated from him.
Pc Nicola Perry requested the letter from Fenland Council and sent it off for forensic analysis, which matched a fingerprint on the back of the letter to Dragon.
When asked how his finger print came to be on the back of the letter, Dragon said he couldn’t explain it.
The court heard that the Cllr Hensley and Dragon had been friends for approximately 40 years but had fallen out over the last two to three years, about a year after Dragon had driven Cllr Hensley’s wife to Switzerland to see Dragon’s ex-wife.
Huntingdon magistrates found Dragon guilty of the offence.
Graham Collins, chairman of the bench, said there was no credible explanation to why Dragon’s fingerprint was on the letter.
Cllr Hensley said after the hearing: “I think it’s a happy end as I wouldn’t like to see a former best friend sent to prison. This is the end of six months of upset it has caused.”