Ipswich: Councillor denies falsely claiming �11,000 of benefits

A senior councillor has been suspended by her political group after she was charged with falsely obtaining more than �11,000 in benefits.

Susan Maguire, who represents Ipswich’s Priory Heath ward on Suffolk County Council, has denied two benefits charges brought against her by the Department of Work and Pensions.

The councillor, of Ransome Road, Ipswich, has been suspended by Labour Party bosses while she fights the charges in the courts. The 53-year-old – who was elected in 2009 and is married to Bradley Maguire, a former Ipswich councillor – entered two not guilty pleas at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

She was charged with dishonestly obtaining �11,073.90 from the department between July 2002 and November 2009 by failing to tell it she had earnings in excess of prescribed limits.

She was also charged with making a false statement on August 1, 2005, with a view to obtaining benefits. Claire Furlong, prosecuting for the department, told magistrates the benefits Maguire was charged with falsely claiming were for a carer’s allowance.

Maguire, after denying the charges, was given the option of a trial before magistrates or at crown court. She chose the latter but will nevertheless return before magistrates on December 5 for an additional hearing.

A spokesman for the county council said Maguire had not been suspended from her duties as a county councillor. He added: “It’s not an issue for the county council at this stage. It’s a matter for the councillor and her political group.”

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Labour group leader Sandy Martin said Maguire had been suspended from the group pending the outcome of the court case.

He said the group took the decision after consulting with the Labour Party. He had been told by Maguire that she would be pleading not guilty and was aware it could be some time before the case was resolved.

He declined to make any further comment at this stage.

Maguire, approached after her court case, declined to comment on the matter.