Shamed ex-Wigan councillor jailed for eight months over fake childcare expenses

A former Wigan councillor has been jailed for eight months for making fraudulent childcare claims.

Emma McGurrin, 36, made false claims totaling £1,693 in childcare costs while serving the as the Standish with Langtree representative between the months of September 2012 and February 2013.

The councillor, who was deselected by Labour shortly after the allegations, was entitled to a basic allowance of £11,682 with additional entitlements for other expenses, including childcare.

The offences were discovered when McGurrin’s childminder was questioned by council officials over benefit payments, revealing that she had been paid up to £40 per time.

McGurrin however had not been entitled to claim the payments, as she had either not paid for childcare or her child had been in school.

Speaking after the case, a Wigan Council spokeswoman said: “Councillors are elected by the people of the borough who expect them to be honest, respectful and live up to the trust placed in them by the electorate.

“Thankfully these are qualities most of our councillors possess. Sadly, she [Emma McGurrin] chose to abuse her position of power and responsibility.”

At yesterday’s hearing Judge Andrew Menary QC pointed out that Ms McGurrin had continued to lie, had made no admission of guilt and continued to blame everyone but herself.

The spokeswoman said: “The council hopes this sentence helps to restore people’s faith in local democracy and underlines Wigan Council’s determination to stamp out this bad behaviour no matter what political party a councillor is a member of.

“Unfortunately, Wigan Council does not have the power to remove badly behaved councillors – only voters can do that through the ballot box.”

The former Labour councillor was found guilty of eight out of nine counts of fraud. The hearing was held at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday.

Main image courtesy of Still Burning, with thanks.

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