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8 Oct 2013

Lazy authorities fail to pursue benefit thief

Neighbours of a fraudster on the run in Spain say they told British law enforcers where he was many times, but were ignored, Sky News reports.

They claim nothing has been done to try to extradite fugitive Norman Brennan, 70, after he moved into their community.

Brennan, a retired joiner from Merseyside, jumped bail in 2008 after admitting £120,000 of benefit fraud and fled to Mijas on the Costa del Sol. He has lived there at the same address ever since.

Expats say they alerted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Merseyside Police, Crimestoppers and local Spanish police.

The Serious and Organised Crime Agency knew of his whereabouts two years ago, but says it was never asked to look for him.

Sefton Council, which prosecuted him, would not say when its investigators learned of his new address, but described the case as "very in-depth and complex". But he admitted benefit fraud?

It is believed Brennan receives his old age pension in Spain and, astonishingly, even gets mail from the DWP in London.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who is leading a clampdown on benefit cheats, ordered an investigation after we confronted him with the case.
I'm astonished. We will check this case and I can promise you that if they haven't done enough, they will now do their level best to get this man back. If he's a fraudster, then we are already spending millions and we are returning billions to the exchequer by getting rid of fraud from the system. Billions more than ever before, but this sort of case is outrageous and I'll deal with it.
A neighbour of Brennan's, who did not want to be identified, said:
Some of us have called hotlines, emailed and even filled in online report forms to try to get action against this man, but nothing has been done. It's ludicrous that he has been allowed to stay here when he is wanted in the UK.
Brennan admitted seven charges at Liverpool Crown Court in 2008 and jumped bail before his sentence.

He admitted using the name of his brother Leslie to claim £120,000 in housing and council tax benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and pension credits.

When he arrived in Spain he and his wife bought two adjoining properties on a complex beside a golf course. He now appears to live alone except for his old dog Ben with whom he wanders around a local park and spends evenings drinking in a nearby bar.

When we confronted Brennan near his Spanish home he refused to discuss his life on the run.

Crimestoppers said it had passed on calls about Brennan to police and the DWP. Merseyside police said it had been working with other agencies to find and arrest Brennan since 2008.

After we put questions to the various UK authorities they have begun an attempt to extradite Brennan.

It's laziness and lack of personal responsibility.

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