Labour MP Apsana Begum Defrauded Taxpayer of £63,928, Court Hears

UK Parliament

Apsana Begum, an MP for the left-wing Labour Party, cost taxpayers the equivalent of £63,928 by “deliberately and dishonestly” claiming social housing she was not entitled to, Snaresbrook Crown Court has been told.

Begum, the Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse since 2019 and billed as Britain’s first-ever hijab-wearing MP, is alleged to have “applied to join the social housing register for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets” by claiming she was in an “overcrowded” home with her extended family.

Prosecutors say she failed to inform the council of changes in these circumstances prior to being given a studio apartment in 2016, according to an Evening Standard court report.

“The prosecution case in short is that over three distinct periods of time, Ms Begum deliberately and dishonestly decided not to inform the London Borough of Tower Hamlets housing options – the people to whom she had made the application – of a significant change in her circumstances,” accused prosecutor James Marsland on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council.

“The reason she didn’t tell them was she knew that if she did, it would negatively affect her application. So she withheld the information,” he said.

“[Begum] was aware of the banding system and how she was able to manipulate it to jump the queue,” the prosecutor alleged, telling jurors that she would have had a “good understanding” of how the social housing entitlement system works, having been a staffer at Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) from 2013 to 2016.

Begum, for her part, says she “vigorously contests these malicious and false allegations” and has pleaded not guilty to all three of the fraud charges laid against her.

She told police she left the family home “as a result of honour-based harassment” related to a relationship she was having, and that she believed she had kept the authorities adequately informed of her situation.

The trial continues.

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