A former Labour councillor and solicitor Muhammad Harun has been jailed for 16 months after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud.
This followed a probe by Tower Hamlets council over a number of years and the sentence is in addition to £124,679.94 compensation paid to the council by Harun for providing him and his family with temporary accommodation on false pretences.
The council began its investigation into Harun after a tip-off.
Following an investigation, Harun was found to have failed to disclose relevant facts in relation to his application for housing including:
- He had made an application for housing in January 2006 from his mother’s property in the borough;
- After being evicted from the property, he was housed in temporary accommodation from January 2006 to July 2010. He was then given a permanent three bedroom home;
- During this period - specifically on July 19 2007 - he purchased a property in Barking; he then purchased an additional property in August 2013.
- At no time did he comply with his legal obligation to notify the council that he had purchased these properties, whilst also having a social housing property.
Harun claimed that his family needed temporary housing because they were being evicted. However, the council successfully argued that he had an ongoing duty to disclose his change of circumstances which he failed to do.
Harun would not have been considered for social housing from the moment he purchased the first property, if the council had been aware of the change in his circumstances. The temporary and social housing properties he benefited from would have been given to a genuinely homeless family.
The chief executive of the council, Will Tuckley, says: “With one of the fastest growing populations in the country and 20,000 people on our housing waiting list, knowingly taking away such a precious resource is not only illegal but unforgiveable.
“Our housing fraud team have a number of resources and years of professional expertise at hand. The team carry out detailed investigations that often lead to charges and court action. Recovered homes are returned to the housing stock. I would encourage anyone who suspects housing fraud may be taking place to think about those homeless families denied a home, and to come forward in confidence.”
Harun had earlier pleaded guilty to the two counts of fraud in September this year.
He stood down as a councillor in December 2018 when the fraud investigation was first announced.