16 Apr 2013

MP's secretary "knew nothing" of husband's benefit fraud

An MP has said his secretary had “no knowledge” of her husband’s £38,000 benefit swindle.

John Baron, Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay, took the step of defending his employee Annie Akinin, as it emerged she was married to Vladimir Akinin, who pleaded guilty to the benefits con last week.

Now Gavin Callaghan, one of the borough’s Labour councillors, has taken to Twitter to call for Basildon Council’s Tory leader Tony Ball to publicly denounce Mr Akinin when the authority debates welfare reform next week.

Mrs Akinin works for Mr Baron as his secretary at his constituency office in Bentalls, Basildon.

But Mr Baron insisted his employed had “no knowledge of the fraud and no involvement in her husband’s financial affairs” and is seeking a divorce from her spouse.

Mr Baron said:
Annie Akinin has assured me she was not aware of her husband’s fraud, and indeed they are getting divorced. Annie knows she has my full support during this difficult time. Mr Vlad Akinin is rightly subject to the legal process. There is no place for benefit cheats in our society.
Vladimir Akinin, 67, of Littlebury Green, Basildon, claimed £15,249 in incapacity benefit and £23,033 in pension credit, despite working as a security guard.

Basildon Crown court heard how Akinin began claiming the two types of benefit when he suffered two heart attacks ten years ago. But he took a job as a night watchman in February 2007 and continued to work for more than three years.

He denied working when the Department of Work and Pensions called him in June 2011 and continued to deny the fraud when he was interviewed in February 2012 by benefit fraud investigators.

Akinin admitted the benefit fraud and was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for a year and to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Akinin had already begun paying back the cash but may be forced to sell his house to repay the rest.

Sentencing him, Judge Jonathan Black slammed Akinin for giving genuine benefit claimers a bad name.

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