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Britain's Got Talent: is that breakdancer disabled?

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Vaughan | 11:09 UK time, Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Forget for a moment all those MPs' expenses claims that are making the headlines, because there's another financial scandal brewing, and at its centre is the heady mix of disability and top rating ITV1 talent show Britain's Got Talent.

Last Saturday night, a 73-year-old pensioner called Fred Bowers made it through to this week's semi-finals of the series, performing breakdancing spins, flips and body-popping. Amazing acrobatic antics, most definitely. But amidst all the intense media scrutiny this latest series has been receiving, some newspapers are now reporting that Mr Bowers has for some years been receiving over £70 a week in disability allowances due to a 'bad leg'. Allegedly, he's also in receipt of £49.10 a week in Motability, which has secured him a 'free' Ford Focus. The Department for Work and Pensions has apparently already launched an investigation.

Fred's defended his actions, saying that although his leg has not affected his dancing, he cannot walk without the aid of a stick. "My left leg is out of order, but it doesn't stop me dancing. I mostly stand still during the dancing and I don't chase around the stage. It's mostly my back, neck and head that I move, so I don't see what the problem is because it is my leg that's bad." In an echo of many MPs' statements over their expenses, Fred has also offered to pay back the state if the DWP uncovers any wrongdoing, and said: "To be honest, I want shot of my Motability allowance and I don't care if they stop my Disability Allowance." He's even suggested that he knows who reported him, and claimed they are "just envious".

Fred - whom you can see strutting his stuff in this YouTube clip from the show - is set to be back on screen in Thursday night's semi-final. Unless circumstances intervene, of course ...

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