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Housing benefit fraud case file and DPA


VashtaNerada
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I have recently been a subject of a fraud investigation relating to a housing benefit claim for a former lodging. The landlord and his then partner were also investigated (one of them having jointly signed, with myself, a lodging agreement that falsely stated a higher rent than had been agreed, which was used to support the similarly exaggerated benefit claim).

 

Several weeks ago, I was subjected to an interview under caution. I had already volunteered all of the information about the offence, before the council were even aware that one had taken place, and the interview was really just to reaffirm what I had already told them, for the benefit of a tape. Because I had admitted everything, and indue come forward of my own accord, I was given a formal caution. The investigation continued for several weeks after - presumably then focussing on the two other parties; I know that they were interviewed some time after me - and has now been completed.

 

I need to make a DPA request for the case file, and am wondering if the DPA has any provisions that would allow me to see the entire file unedited - i.e. to include whatever information is held about the other two parties in connection to the same offence, given that I have a direct interest in knowing, for example, whether they received any penalties themselves (considering that the nature of the offence is such that I can't have committed it without one or both of them).

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The housing benefit fraud case file is likely to be exempt from a SAR, as section 29 of the DPA excludes

(1)Personal data processed for any of the following purposes—

(a)the prevention or detection of crime,

(b)the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, or

©the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature,

 

Even if that were not the case, I would expect that you would not be entitled to information relating to any penalties applied to the other 2 parties, as that would be their personal data, not yours

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That is, unfortunately, what I suspected would be the case.

 

I was given a formal caution before the investigation was complete. Subsequent to that, the other two parties were also interviewed,and the investigation closed several weeks after that. I have asked the investigator if the completed investigation has found that a fraud did occur. I asked because although the caution I got indicates a finding of guilt on my part, it was administered before the investigation had been completed, and so different - and possibly contradictory - conclusions might have been drawn after dealing with other two. Basically, I want to know that I haven't got a caution for an officially non-existent offence.

 

I also need to know the findings of the investigation, because it is important evidence in a related county court case against me (the two other parties are alleging rent arrears based upon the false rent figure, so I could do with showing that their claim is based on an earlier fraud). Perhaps I could try for a court order to get the case file?

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if you require information for legal proceedings, you may able to get information, but you would need to explain this in your request

Edited by id6052
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Well, I have just received from one of the other parties - the one who co-sined the falsified lodger agreement - that he has been 'released from caution' and that no further action will be taken against him.

 

So it seems nothing whatsoever has happened to him, and yet I have a caution. After the investigation closed, it had been confirmed that my caution will remain for 5 years. Yet, nothing for the other two. The two positions are totally contradictory, and the investigator won't tell me anything.

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For the Council to have cautioned you, you must have admitted committing an offence.

 

Sounds like the others denied the offence, and there might not have been sufficient evidence to prosecute.

 

Think about it this way, if 3 people were to rob a bank and they were arrested and questioned.

1 person admits it, the other 2 deny it and there is insufficent evidence to prosecute.

The first person would get done for it and other 2 would get off.

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I did admit it; indeed, it was I who told the council that it had happened, and supplied the evidence to show what had happened. One of the other two signed, with me, a falsified lodger agreement, so I would have thought that if one us can't be guilty and the other not. Although, I do understand - from what I was told at interview - that it may be deemed different offences for myself and the other two (e.g. lodger and landlords), so it might be something to do with that. Either way, an offence either happened or it didn't, and the investigator has not said which he has found to be the case.

 

So I will be applying for a court order, on the ground of the information being vital to help settle a crucial point in a related court case.

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From what you have stated, it is clear by your own admission that you committed an offence.

 

The fact that the Council could not prove a case against the other two does not mean it did not happen, it only means there was insufficient evidence to prove it.

 

I am thinking that you might have difficulty getting information about the other two, especially if the Council opened 2 different investigations for different (although linked) offences.

 

I will try and get someone else to look in on this thread who has more knowledge on fraud/investigation issues.

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OK. It would also help to know what 'released from caution' means; does it indicated they were given a caution, but it has been removed, or have they been released from caution in the sense that they were interviewed under caution and could be recalled for further questioning?

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I would expect released from caution, relates to the caution relating to an IUC, rather than the application of an official caution.

 

You would have thought they would come up with different terms for these two.

 

If you are pursuing alternative legal redress, I would suggest consulting a soliitor, if you have not already. They may have more success in getting access to documents than you as an individual

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What a sad turn of events but fully understandable.

 

In the eyes of the law the OP is the only one that has been found guilty of fraud. The other two have a 'clean record'. In my opinion you can't change that, guilt was admitted and the others pleaded not guilty.

 

Given that scenario any future civil action (rent arrears) will go ahead and as nothing has been 'proved' (there is a difference between 'proved' and voluntary admission of guilt' that there was a crime committed it would succeed on the higher rent figure.

 

I can, like the other poster liken it to a case of benefit fraud, where the CPS & the police took the case instead of the DWP and the claimant just admitted anything and everything (without taking legal representation), was sent to prison for 1 month with the remaining 5 months suspended and ordered to repay all of the benefit obtained.

The case when the DWP demanded their money back was appealed against and with representation the Tribunal agreed that due to the circumstances involved no order for recovery was made - the claimant & his representative proved that no offence actually took place!

 

It still doesn't change the fact that he pleaded guilty in the criminal trial and he was punished - in other words he was punished for something that he did but that it wasn't illegal! He was punished for saying it was to the police and the court!!

 

Always have proper legal representation and never admit guilt and never ever point an authority in the direction of a fraud that you actually took part in. The LA would probably have never been the wiser if the poster had kept quiet and walked away.

 

He only has himself to blame and his conscience got the better of him or was it a case of the poster trying to get one over on the LL and came unstuck?

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