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Former town hall Councillor jailed for false expenses claims

Emma McGurrin, an ex-Labour Councillor in Wigan, was locked up for eight months for fraudulently claiming £1,693 for childcare costs.

A former town hall councillor who fraudulently claimed £1,693 in childcare costs has been jailed.

Emma McGurrin, 36, was found guilty after a trial of eight counts of fraud and locked up for eight months.

The ex-Labour councillor in Wigan claimed expenses for childminding services which did not take place while she was on council business.

McGurrin, of Collett Close in Scholes, Wigan, was elected Labour councillor for the Standish with Langtree ward in Wigan in May 2010 but was suspended from the National Labour Party when the allegations emerged.

She was deselected by the party then lost her seat at last year’s local elections after standing for another political party.

Council bosses in Wigan said after the hearing that she had abused her position of power and responsibility.

McGurrin denied the offences she faced but was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of eight out of nine counts of fraud. She was jailed at a recent sentencing hearing at the same court.

The council said sentencing judge Andrew Menary QC ruled she had continued to lie, had made no admission of guilt and continued to blame everyone but herself.

All town hall councillors are entitled to basic allowances with additional payments available for expenses including childcare. The court was told that she made a total of 50 bogus claims for expenses payments for childcare from 2012 into 2013.

A Wigan Council spokesman said afterwards that council officers do not have the power to remove councillors from office – it’s up to voters at the ballot box.

The spokesman added: “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, but this is not true of former councillor Emma McGurrin – sadly she chose to abuse her position of power and responsibility.

“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.”

Source:  http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/former-town-hall-councillor-jailed-8391495

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