Benefit cheats

Crime & Court News from the Fenland Citizen,, @FenlandCit on Twitter
Crime & Court News from the Fenland Citizen,, @FenlandCit on Twitter

A Wisbech UKIP councillor and his wife admitted falsely claiming £25,000 in benefits.

Cllr Peter Lagoda, (59), and his wife Maria, also (59), dramatically changed their plea to guilty at the start of their trial on Monday at Peterborough Crown Court.

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The pair had been accused of giving Fenland District Council a false address in a bid to claim extra benefits. Lagoda claimed he lived in South Beach, Cambridgeshire, when he shared a property in Cockett Drive, Wisbech with his wife.

It was alleged the councillor and his wife falsely claimed £11,565 in income support, £2,346 in council tax and £10,949 in housing benefit between June 2008 and November 2010.

Despite originally pleading not guilty last April at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court the pair have now admitted all the charges.

Peter Lagoda admitted making a false representation for the purpose of obtaining benefits.

His wife pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to notify changes of circumstances and three charges of making false statement to claim benefits.

They will be sentenced on March 28.

Lagoda was elected to represent Wisbech South on Cambridgeshire County Council last May .

But he was suspended from UKIP after being charged with the fraud.

Peter Reeve, UKIP regional organiser for the East of England, said Lagoda became an independent councillor following his suspension in the summer.

He said: “Mr Lagoda has always told us he was innocent throughout all of this, but if he committed these acts, he will not be a member of UKIP. UKIP does not tolerate any level of dishonesty, particularly from people who hold public office for us.”

Lagoda hit the newspapers again just one week ago after a complaint was made about “disturbing” remarks he made during a visit to Wisbech fire station.

In a conversation about his family, he described his north African sister as a “w*g” and said his cousin in Germany married a “Mongol” and now they have children with “slanty eyes”.

Lagoda defended his comments and said he should never have had to write a letter of apology to the fire station.

He said a person from Mongolia is called a Mongol and the children are “ever so cute” and that “w*g” is derived from a “golliwog” blackface minstrel doll.

Mr Reeve said: “I am not going to sit here and defend his words. UKIP does not tolerate racism.”