A councillor is accused of £45,000 of fraud by claiming benefits as a single man while living with his partner in Inverness.
John Holden, 62, stated on council tax forms that he was the sole occupant of his home in Inverness between 1999 and 2008, a fraud investigator told Inverness Sheriff Court.
But Veronica Bachelor, of Highland Council’s Benefit Fraud team, said Holden’s now wife, massage therapist Mary Ross, had paid telephone and Sky TV bills from the same address between 2001 and 2008.
She also said Ms Ross bought a £1200 washing machine from Comet in 2004 stating on forms she had lived at the same house for more than ten years.
Ms Bachelor, 61, also produced divorce documents addressed to Ms Ross at the Inverness councillor’s home which included claims he had an affair with her.
The court was shown application forms claiming council tax benefit from Holden between January 1999 and August 2008 in which he stated he was the sole occupant of the house at Teal Avenue, was unemployed, and declared that he had no savings or capital.
Miss Bachelor said Holden’s application over the period to which the charges refer stated he lived alone. The councillor, who arrived at court with the aid of a walking stick, has pled not guilty to a series of fraud charges.
He is accused with falsely claiming income support between January 1999 and August 2008 in excess of £34,000 and council tax benefit of £6925.24 and single occupancy of more than £2309.73 by claiming he lived alone, had no capital and was not in employment between January 6, 1999 and August 31, 2008.
An alternative to the council tax fraud charge is that he knowingly failed to notify Highland Council of his change of circumstances, that he lived with his wife, had capital and was in employment, and that his wife had capital and was in employment.
He faces a further charge of failing to give prompt notification to the Benefits Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions of his change of circumstances, which he knew would affect his entitlement to income support.
He is charged with failing to notify them that he no longer lived alone and that he had capital and was in employment and that his wife had capital and was in employment, thereby obtaining income support in excess of £34,337.48 to which he was not entitled.
Elected in 2007, Holden represents people in South Inverness on Highland Council.
The Labour councillor has been suspended from the party’s group on the council until the court case is resolved.