Former mayor ‘backstabbed’ in fraud benefit case

October 25, 2007

A former mayor and his wife were accused of swindling benefits because of political grudge against him, a court heard yesterday (October 24).

John Walker, 57, the former Labour mayor of Sefton, Merseyside, and his wife Catie, 49, face two counts of conspiring to falsify applications for state benefits.

The couple obtained nearly £47,000 in disability living allowance and income support while he held public office, Liverpool Crown Court has heard.

The charges relate to the couple's failure to declare Walker's £14,531-a-year expenses as councillor and mayor, and Catie Walker's alleged £70-100 a week job as a taxi escort for disabled children.

The pair, of Farmer Place, Bootle, each deny the allegations.

John Gruffydd, defending Mr Walker, said: "John Walker was stabbed in the back by those who had a grudge against him.

"This was inspired by the intrigue and backstabbing which is part of politics in Sefton."

Mr Walker, who resigned from his seat after the allegations came to light, was reported to the Department for Work and Pensions by an anonymous caller to its Benefits Cheat Hotline.

The jury of five men and seven women were earlier told he suffered the muscle condition fibromyalgia and ME, often known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Teresa Loftus, prosecuting, said the couple had completed benefits applications which claimed John Walker suffered several disabilities and needed round-the-clock care from his wife.

This, she said, was at a time when he was campaigning for political office and attending lengthy civic functions as ceremonial mayor.

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