THURROCK Council has launched an investigation into how allegations of fraud against a Labour councillor have been handled.

The Thurrock Gazette revealed last week how Clare Baldwin, councillor for Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park, has been investigated for circumstances surrounding her housing benefit relating to properties in Tilbury and Loughton.

At a meeting held with the Conservative group’s leader and deputy leader, the council’s chief executive Graham Farrant confirmed an internal probe is now under way and that the case will be reviewed by an external organisation. thought to be the council’s auditor RSM Tenon.

Cllr Phil Anderson, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “I am pleased the council seems to be taking this matter seriously and are accepting that there must be no appearance of a cover-up here.

“Cllr Baldwin should expect to be treated exactly the same as any other member of the public – that means a fair and impartial investigation, followed if necessary by a fair and impartial trial. My concern is that so far that doesn’t seem to have happened.

“We will be keeping the pressure on to make sure there are no further delays and any internal mishandling of this case is exposed and dealt with.”

A leaked council memo gave details of how Cllr Baldwin was interviewed in October 2012 about her living arrangements. and alleged benefits irregularities.

The Gazette has complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office over the council’s responses to Freedom of Information requests on the matter.

Council leader John Kent did not respond to Gazette requests for a comment on the matter.