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Labour councillor quits Sunderland City Council after £2,000 benefit fraud conviction

Former Sunderland City Councillor Lisa Smiles, who has resigned from the council and the Labour party after being convicted of benefit fraud.

Former Sunderland City Councillor Lisa Smiles, who has resigned from the council and the Labour party after being convicted of benefit fraud.

BENEFIT cheat councillor Lisa Smiles, who was convicted of conning the local authority out of £2,000, has resigned from both the Labour Party and the city council.

Smiles, of Portchester Road in Pennywell, failed to declare wages and her councillor’s allowance when claiming housing benefit.

She admitted receiving £2,318 in payments she was not entitled to over a period of 12 months and was fined £150 when she appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

The departure of the 44-year-old leaves a vacancy in her former ward of St Anne’s which will now have to be filled, however the council was unable to give details of if and when a by-election would be held.

A spokesman for the council said: “The city council can confirm a notice of resignation has been received from Lisa Smiles.”

A Labour North spokesman said: “Councillor Lisa Smiles was suspended from the Labour Party in September 2013 following her court appearance.

“She remained on suspension pending an internal investigation into her conduct. She has now resigned from the Labour Party and Sunderland Labour Group.”

The news comes as the abuse of benefits was discussed at the latest meeting of the full council.

Tory councillor Lee Martin submitted a written question to council leader Paul Watson, asking whether he thought the “overwhelming majority” of people on benefits are in genuine need and whether cheats should be punished.

Coun Watson said: “Benefits are there to support those in need,” adding that “abusing that system is diabolical and should be punished”.

He then quoted a section of CS Lewis’ theories on crime and punishment, then referred to “the self-righted retribution that some Tories would advocate.”

Coun Watson said that punishment should be done to deter and lead by example, not to exact revenge, adding that to do so would be “psychologically sick”

Referring to Lisa Smiles, Coun Martin said there seemed to be “one rule for people in here, and one rule for others.” His comment was drowned out by protests from Labour councillors.

Ms Smiles did not respond to the Echo’s requests for a comment.

 
 
 

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