Councillor Peter Lawless guilty of benefit fraud

Peter Lawless Peter Lawless received £4,839.11 in housing benefit overpayments

A councillor has admitted receiving housing benefit while failing to declare his earnings.

Windsor and Maidenhead councillor Peter Lawless was caught after an anonymous tip-off from a resident to the council's Beat the Cheat hotline.

Lawless, of Eton Wick Road, pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to notify a change in circumstances.

He received a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay the council £400 in costs.

The 62-year-old Conservative councillor for the Eton Wick ward was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

David Burbage, leader of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, said Lawless had been suspended from the Conservative group.

'Standards public expect'

East Berkshire Magistrates' Court heard Lawless had received £4,839.11 in housing benefit overpayments between 16 May 2011 and 6 January 2014.

He had applied for housing benefit in 2009 on the basis his Royal Mail wages could not cover rent.

From May 2011, when he became a councillor, until February this year he earned member allowances of £19,590.48 that he did not declare to the council's housing benefits team.

He also failed to notify the council of monthly pension payments from the Royal Mail following a single lump sum payment of £13,998.88 on 23 January 2012.

Mr Burbage said: "This is not the standard the public expect from their elected representatives, and following this verdict we will be taking further action shortly, which we will announce when it has been agreed."

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