Councillor King says I didnt help him cheat benefits
I didn’t help him cheat benefits. By Matt Withers, Daily Post THE man in charge of North Wales’ police watchdog yesterday denied giving advice on benefits to an abuse scandal victim accused of fraud.Steven Messham is facing charges of fraudulently claiming more than £33,000 in benefits, despite having up to £40,000 in the bank.The 42-year-old told benefits bosses he had little or no savings while tens of thousands of pounds – much of it compensation for the abuse he suffered – lay in eight different accounts.Messham, from Buckley, claims he did not know he had to declare the cash – which varied from £25,000 to £40,000 during the period in question, 1995-2000.He set up North Wales Abuse Survivors after giving evidence to the Waterhouse Inquiry into sexual abuse in North Wales care homes in the 1990s.He alleges he had spoken to some prominent local council bosses, whom he had met as part of his campaigning, about his benefit applications.But yesterday both North Wales police authority chair Malcolm King and Flintshire county secretary Andrew Loveridge said they had not offered him any direct advice.Mr King, a friend of Messham due to his pivotal role in uncovering the abuse scandal, told Warrington Crown Court: “Through general conversations, I became aware Steven had some financial difficulties.”He had health difficulties that could be classified as disabilities. I recommended he had a welfare rights check to make sure he was claiming things he was entitled to.”Earlier Mr Loveridge, a central figure in running of the Waterhouse Inquiry, told the court he was certain he had never had a one-to-one conversation with Messham.When asked if he had any involvement with Messham’s benefit applications, he said: “Only in respect of this coming to the police.”Messham, of Llys Bedw, Buckley, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of falsifying accounts.He insists he thought compensation and life assurance was not taken into account when completing means-test forms.The charges relate to three claims to the Benefits Agency, one to Flintshire council and one to the old Delyn council.On three of the occasions, he said he had no savings. Once he admitted to having £150, and once £500.The hearing continues today.