The Poplar and Limehouse MP charged with council housing fraud has suggested in court that her ex-husband was controlling the account she used to bid for properties.
Apsana Begum’s applications for social housing could have been made by Tower Hamlets councillor Ehtashamul Haque, her former partner, Snaresbrook crown court was told.
The 31-year-old who won the seat for Labour at the 2019 general election faces three charges of fraud by failing to disclose information during three separate periods from 2013 to 2016 — which she denies.
Begum’s application for social housing listed her family home with three bedrooms, while applications by her aunt in 2009 and her mother in 2013 had it as four bedrooms, Tower Hamlets Council’s anti-fraud specialist Lino Messore confirmed.
Begum continued to make housing applications after she moved out to live with Cllr Haque in May 2013, until March the following year, the jury heard on the second day of her trial.
She moved back to her family home in October 2015 and later reached the top of the housing shortlist on points, the prosecution said.
But Begum’s lawyer, Helen Law, said investigators failed to “join the dots”, including the complaint made in 2019 by a relative of Mr Haque about her applications — which sparked the council’s investigation.
The bids were placed on consecutive Fridays while Begum was living with Mr Haque, so it is likely he was controlling her account, Ms Law argued.
“The pattern is consistent with somebody else bidding in the period when she lives in the house (with Mr Haque) to when she leaves,” the lawyer said.
“This would have been a bit of a red flag that maybe was consistent with that happening, that maybe she could have been telling the truth that Mr Haque was on her account.”
Begum later split from her husband, partly due to his “coercive and controlling behaviour”, jurors heard.
The fraud charges cover three periods, January 18 to May 21, 2013, then May 21 that year to March 23, 2014, and lastly October 28, 2015, to March 31 the following year.
The trial continues.