Kingston councillor 'frustrated' by delays in benefit fraud investigation

Councillor Tim Dennen

Councillor Tim Dennen

First published in News Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

A Kingston councillor at the centre of an investigation into alleged benefit fraud says he still does not know whether he will be prosecuted – almost two years since an inquiry was launched.

Independent Canbury ward Councillor Tim Dennen has been under investigation since April 2012, although details of the case cannot be released for legal reasons.

Coun Dennen stepped down as a member of the Liberal Democrat party and as chairman of the Kingston neighbourhood committee shortly before it was revealed benefit claims made by him were being investigated by Kingston Council.

But almost 22 months on, details of any further action are yet to be revealed by Kingston Council.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet this week, Coun Dennen, who receives £7,528.95 a year as member allowances, said: “Truthfully, I know nothing.

“I’m quite frustrated as you can imagine – all I can do is go on carrying out my day-to-day duties.

“I’m at the mercy of the people investigating.

“I wish I could tell you what was going on, but I really don’t know what’s happening.”

Should the investigation find against him, he could be forced to resign as a councillor and face prosecution.

But Coun Dennen said: “I’m innocent until proven guilty.

“The longer it goes on the better I guess, but the whole thing has been quite shocking really, and I’ve just got to wait.”

The investigation was hampered last year when the Department for Work and Pensions, which initially took over the case from Kingston Council, handed it back to the authority having allowed its own investigation to time out.

Former Kingston Council leader Derek Osbourne said at the time the DWP’s intervention had set the process back by about six months.

Current leader Liz Green said: “The last I heard it was with [head of corporate governance] Andrew Bessant’s department.

“I’ve heard nothing since.” A spokesman for Kingston Council said: “The investigation continues and we hope to be in a position to comment further soon. Investigations such as this are often complex.”

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