Kingston councillor charged with benefit fraud will face polls before court

Surrey Comet: Canbury ward councillor Tim Dennen Canbury ward councillor Tim Dennen

A candidate for the council elections charged with £3,600 worth of benefit fraud will not appear again in court until after polling day.

Canbury ward councillor Tim Dennen, 57, who told the Surrey Comet two weeks ago he was “a strong candidate” campaigning on speeding cars, litter and dog poo, could face jail if found guilty of the seven charges.

The former Liberal Democrat councillor, who was asked to quit the party when the allegations surfaced two years ago, appeared without any legal representation in Lavender Hill Magistrates court on Tuesday.

He wanted to enter a plea but was told he should seek legal representation first and his case was set back to June 6 - two weeks after voters go to the polls in the local elections on May 22.

In court he was said to have given misleading information between 2008 and 2010 while dishonestly claiming benefits towards his council tax.

Coun Dennen is alleged to have falsely told Kingston Council on several occasions he had only one bank account when he had 123 shares in a Barclays premium account and two other accounts.

He is also accused of failing to tell the benefits department he was receiving the £7,528.95 a year expenses for being a councillor since his 2010 election in Kingston’s Canbury ward.

Surrey Comet:

Councillor Dennen arrives at court on Tuesday

It was also said he hid the fact he was renting a room in his home in York Road to a lodger for £390 a month.

Coun Dennen also did not tell the council he had a private pension, prosecutors claim.

The adjournment means voters could re-elect Mr Dennen with the alleged offences hanging over him.

If he was eventually convicted he would face a maximum six-week prison sentence but could keep his council seat.

Candidates who receive at least a three-month prison sentence without the option of a fine are disqualified from being a councillor.

Coun Dennen was a counsellor with Kingston Rise from 2012-13, an alcohol rehab social enterprise running a drop-in clinic at the Richard Mayo Centre in Eden Street.

He was the owner of Unity Mastering for eight years, a facility in Fulham which “had several top records including the Sugababes and Amy Winehouse”.

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