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Thurrock councillor denies benefit fraud charge
A THURROCK councillor accused of committing benefit fraud has denied the charge.
Clare Baldwin, who has represented Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park ward since 2011, appeared at a Plea and Case Management Hearing at Basildon Crown Court to answer the charges - for which the amount claimed fraudulently is over £2,640.
Ms Baldwin is accused of dishonestly making a false statement on or around March 19 with a view to obtaining housing and council tax benefit from Thurrock Council. She is accused of failing to declare she was living together with her then-partner, Terrance Hearse, in Byron Gardens, Tilbury.
She also stood accused of dishonestly failing to notify a change in her circumstances, which would affect her entitlement to housing and council tax benefit, by failing to say she was living with Mr Hearse to Thurrock Council.
Ms Baldwin, a mum-of-ten, appeared at court in a white coat and fur boots and denied both charges.
Mr Hearse also pleaded not guilty to making a false statement.
Ms Baldwin is currently suspended by the East of England Labour Party whilst she is being investigated.
The pair have been released on unconditional bail and will appear at Basildon Crown Court on March 24 for a pre trial review ahead of a three day trial on May 12.