18 Sep 2018

Tory council candidate had social housing fraud conviction

A Conservative party candidate for this year’s local election has a criminal conviction for tenancy and benefit fraud.

A BBC investigation showed how Richard Kays, also known as Richard Kagumya, illegally sublet a council property in Ilford, making £400 per month in unlawful profits back in 2016.

But his previous conviction only came to light in a BBC documentary broadcast on Monday, September 10.

Despite his criminal conviction, Mr Kays was still selected by the Conservative Party to stand as a local election candidate in Wanstead Park ward in May this year. He was unsuccessful.

He also ran an event for the party in the Houses of Parliament.

In 2016, the 29-year-old had also wrongfully claimed housing benefit of £400 per month whilst charging his sub-tenant £800 per month to live in the council property.

According to the BBC, his total profits from the illegal subletting and fraudulent housing benefit claims over a five month period came to more than £5,000.

Mr Kays was alleged to have shown no remorse for his crimes and was labelled “arrogant” by those prosecuting him.

At the time, he was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid community work and had to repay costs of almost £2,000 to Redbridge Council and more than £5,000 to the housing association involved.

Earlier this summer, Mr Kays also organised and ran a children’s Question Time-style panel event in the Houses of Parliament for the Conservative party.

At the time, the event was criticised for the panel’s lack of diversity. Every panel member was affiliated with the Conservative party, all were white and only one of panellists was a woman.

Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, was chairman of the children’s Question Time panel and had been invited to chair proceedings by Richard Kays.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “I understand Richard Kays was a member of the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Association but that he is no longer a member. As I understand it Leyton and Wanstead did not know he had a conviction, it is of course quite wrong for someone to join the Conservative Association and stand for council, without informing the Party of any criminal offence. Each Conservative Association is responsible for their own membership reporting to Conservative Central Office. ”

In Redbridge, social housing makes up just 12 per cent of the council’s housing stock and there are currently 2,200 homeless families in the borough living in temporary housing in the borough, waiting for a permanent council home.

Cllr Linda Huggett, leader of the Redbridge Conservative group, said she played no part in Mr Kays’ selection earlier this year.

She said: “The matter has been referred to the Press Office at Conservative Campaign Head Quarters. At present I have no further comment to make.”

Cllr Paul Canal, former leader of the Conservative group, has been contacted for comment.

Harriet Bailey, a spokesman for the national Conservative party, said: “Richard Kays has resigned from the party.”


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