Fraud accused 'saved benefits to educate children'

A man accused of fraudulently claiming £35,000 in benefits acted under the dictates of Islamic law, a court has heard.

Majid Hussain, 62, of Mincinglake Road in Exeter, was paid income support, housing and council tax benefits for 13 years, despite a "secret" bank account which grew from £18,000 to £36,000.

Every year the Iraqi immigrant declared he had no savings or bank accounts.

Exeter Crown Court heard the money was solely for his children's education.

'Honour oath'

Mr Hussain denies three counts of dishonestly claiming a total of more than £35,000 between 1997 and 2010.

The university graduate said his father left him money to educate his four children and he had a duty under Islamic law and his own culture to honour an oath to his late father to preserve the money.

After the bank account was discovered in 2010, Mr Hussain's income support was stopped, but the state has continued to pay disability living allowance because he suffers from Crohn's disease, kidney problems and muscle pain.

Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said Mr Hussain initially told investigators the money in the account had been saved from his scholarship money when the Iraqi government was paying for him to study at Exeter University from 1986 to 1996.

However, he later filed a defence in which he claimed the money came from his late father and had been left to him on strict Islamic terms by a relative for the sole use of his children.

"In accordance with Islamic belief and law there was no possibility or option for it ever to be used for his own use and as such there was no intention to deceive," the defence statement said.

The trial continues.

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