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9 Aug 2018

Stamford Hill’s Jewish leaders want apology from High Court judge over comments on fraud and tax evasion

Jewish leaders have asked a High Court QC to withdraw his comments about benefit fraud and tax evasion within Stamford Hill’s Haredi community – and issue an apology.

Miriam Kliers alleged in court that a house she and her husband Shlomo bought in Kyverdale Road had been put in the name of her younger brother Mordechai Schmerler so they could claim housing benefit.

She also claimed some of the money used to buy the £418,000 home was purported charitable donations but was in fact her wages, which had been disguised to avoid paying tax.

During the property hearing, brought to light in last week’s Hackney Gazette, QC Murray Rosen said:
This was influence within this particular sect. It was influence which purported to have the backing of religious leadership, incredible though that may sound, and it was influence exerted by dominant males within this family and this society. 
To be confronted by a plan of this nature which, on the evidence, is common practice amongst esteemed and respected religious and community leaders, is one which must cause very great concern to any court seeking to administer the law and the process of justice and legal remedy in this country if not elsewhere.
But Mr Rosen said he wouldn’t want to speculate on how the defendants would respond to allegations about “rampant illegality” in Stamford Hill’s Haredi community.

Now the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations – an umbrella group headquartered in Stamford Hill that has more than 6,000 members from Haredi communities – has hit back.

The group said in a statement:
We are disappointed to read of Mr Rosen’s reported remarks about our community, which are based on a single testimony. The Rabbinate places the utmost importance on upholding the law of the land and does not condone any activity which runs contrary to it. On this basis, we question the basis of his offensive generalisation. We are unaware of any other such cases and would ask Mr Rosen QC to withdraw his comments as a matter of urgency and issue a fulsome apology.
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