Hotelier sympathy for benefits cheat
Last updated at 22:36, Friday, 03 December 2010
A REALITY TV star who escaped the horror of her crime-ridden council estate thanks to cash from a Lakes millionaire has been convicted of benefit fraud.
Charlene Isaac, 37, appeared on the Channel 4 show How the Other Half Live and was paired with English Lakes Hotels owner Jonathan Denby and his family who handed over at least £3,000.
Mr Denby says he keeps in regular contact and has nothing but sympathy for her over the case and they will continue to have his full support.
The programme, aired in May, showed the life of the family, from a crime-ridden estate in Tottenham, north London, compared to the Denby family who live a life of comfort and are worth £15m.
During the show each family visited each other’s home to find out for themselves the differences between them.
A spokesman for Haringay council said Isaac had moved to south London with ‘financial support from the family they had befriended through the TV show’.
The family, however, left the area owing £4,998 after making a string of false claims for housing benefit between September 2008 and March 2010.
The council said Isaac was also receiving working tax credit and child tax credit and said she had been overpayed nearly £5,000 before accepting help from the Denby family.
The council said Isaac was arrested and brought before the courts.
A spokesman said: “She pleaded not guilty to failing to notify the council of a change in circumstances, knowing that the change affected her entitlement.
“At a later hearing magistrates found her guilty.”
She was ordered to repay the full amount at £100-a-month and was handed a 12-month conditional discharge by JPs at Highgate Magistrates on November 17.
Mr Denby said he was still in contact with the family and visited them regularly.
He added that he felt extremely sorry for them.
Mr Denby said: “This had absolutely nothing to do with the money we gave or the show. This all happened before we got to know them.
“The problem of the over payment arose during filming and what happened was she simply made a mistake and ticked a wrong box when declaring her husband’s income. She ticked ‘gross income’ rather than ‘net income’. She agreed to pay back £100 a month once she realised, which they could ill afford.
“In April I arranged for them to move out of their home and agreed to guarantee the rent, which I still pay.
“They are now extremely happy and their lives have been transformed by moving to south London.
“She simply ticked a wrong box and was unable to attend one hearing as she was taken into hospital.
“I feel very, very sorry for them and they continue to have my full support.”
First published at 14:20, Friday, 03 December 2010
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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