A solicitor and former east London councillor has been sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of housing fraud.
Muhammad Harun completed numerous applications for social housing and made false declarations before his actions were uncovered by the council’s specialist housing team.
Harun made an application for housing in January from his mother’s property and was found temporary accommodation for four years before he was given a permanent three-bedroom home in the borough in 2010. But investigators found he had also bought a property in Barking in 2007 and failed to disclose his change of circumstances.
Tower Hamlets Council said Harun would not have been considered for social housing from the moment he purchased the Barking property, if it had been aware of the change in circumstances. The accommodation he benefitted from would have been given to a genuinely homeless family.
Sentencing Harun at Snaresbrook Crown Court last week, His Honour Judge Sanders said the length of time over which the fraud was committed contributed to the sentence.
‘You made hundreds of bids for social housing and were a beneficiary of accommodation you were not entitled to,’ said the judge. His sentence is in addition to the £125,000 compensation Harun has already paid to the council.
Harun, a non-practising immigration specialist and a solicitor since 2011, had been elected in the Lansbury ward following the 2018 local government elections. The council began its probe after a tip-off and he stood down as a councillor when the fraud investigation was announced. Harun had earlier pleaded guilty to the two counts of fraud at Thames Magistrates Court in September.
Will Tuckley, chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: ‘This case sends a very clear message that whoever you are, you cannot expect to get away with fraud and depriving a homeless family of a safe and secure home.'
It is understood that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is now pursuing its own investigation into Harun.