Bangladesh-origin British MP Apsana cleared of housing fraud charges

Apsana Begum. Photo taken from her Facebook page
The Bangladeshi-origin British MP Apsana Begum has been found not guilty in a trial over claims of housing fraud.

Tower Hamlets council claimed Apsana, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse in London, had withheld information about her circumstances to obtain social housing.

She was acquitted on three counts of housing fraud between 2013 and 2016 at Snaresbrook crown court in east London following a week-long trial, The Guardian reported on Friday.

The council accused Apsana, who was first elected in 2019 with a 28,904 majority, of costing it almost £64,000 by not notifying it she was no longer living in overcrowded housing, as was the case when she first sought social housing, because she had moved in with her partner, Ehtashamul Haque.

But Apsana said she had notified the council for council tax purposes, that she was in a difficult personal period due to family reasons, and that the “controlling and coercive” Ehtashamul had taken over her affairs.

She thanked her legal team and “all those who have shown me solidarity, support and kindness” after her vindication.

“This case has been driven by malicious intent and has caused me great distress and damage to my reputation,” she said in a statement.

“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.

“I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else

“I would now like to get on with my job of representing my constituents - opposing the negligent COVID decisions made by (Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s) reckless Tory Government which has caused so many families to lose loved ones who should still be with us today and so much hardship that could have been avoided.”

Her lawyer, Raj Chada, added: “I am delighted that Apsana has been found not guilty. Prosecutors and investigators need to better understand and consider how victims of coercive control and domestic abuse behave and how they are treated by the criminal justice system.

“Thankfully Apsana can continue serving her constituents and highlighting the issues that are important to them.”