“No individual can ever be above the law” says Luton council after prosecuting one of its own councillors

A local authority has vowed to continue “to protect the public purse” after prosecuting one of its own councillors in Luton.

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 13th June 2022, 4:41 pm

“No individual can ever be above the law”, according to a statement released by Luton Borough Council, which took action against Labour Dallow councillor Hannah Adrees over a fraud case.

Adrees, of Conway Road, was sentenced to eight months in custody, suspended for 18 months, with a condition she completes 200 hours unpaid work, after she pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.

As the sentence is more than three months, Adrees is now disqualified from holding office as a councillor, which will trigger a by-election in Dallow ward.

Luton Town Hall and inset, Cllr Hannah Adrees, who received an 8-month suspended prison sentence for defrauding her own council

Her sentencing at Luton Crown Court on Friday followed a referral for sentencing from a previous hearing at the town’s magistrates court.

An investigation by the shared anti-fraud service working on behalf of the council related to an allegation of fraud in respect of her administration, as a family member, of an adult social care payment, over a two-year period from 2018 to 2020.

The court heard how Adrees, as a person in a position of trust, managed the direct care payments on behalf of an elderly relative and abused that position, explained a council statement.

“She dishonestly used the payments to buy items for herself as well, allocating more than £2,000 for unauthorised wages,” it said.

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“In handing down the sentence, the judge commented that although her actions weren’t sophisticated they took place over a long period.

“Her deeds were a gross abuse of someone in a position to manage funds and she used the benefit system to defraud the very authority she was elected to serve.

“In mitigation she was given credit for her early guilty plea and good character,” added the statement.

A council spokesman said: “Luton Borough Council is committed to investigating and prosecuting any allegations of fraud, irrespective of the identity of the alleged offender.

“No individual can ever be above the law and we will continue working together with the shared anti-fraud service to protect the public purse.

“Action will be taken against anyone found to be committing criminal offences at the authority’s expense.”