Ex-councillor in dock over nanny ‘scam’

Cllr Emma McGurrin
Cllr Emma McGurrin

A WIGAN politician cheated Wigan Council out of £1,900 with bogus claims for nanny cover, a court heard.

It is alleged that Emma McGurrin submitted nine allowance claims saying she had paid for child care while she was on town hall duties when she had not done so.

A Liverpool Crown Court jury heard that the 36-year-old was elected to represent the Standish with Langtree ward for Labour in 2010 and as well as a basic allowance of £11,682 she was also entitled to certain other allowances.

In September 2012 McGurrin, who has a daughter, became aware she was entitled to child care allowance for 20 hours a week. “Councillors may claim at an hourly rate for someone looking after their child,” said prosecutor Geoffrey Lowe.

They have to submit applications outlining why they are claiming and for how many hours and each claim has to be accompanied by a receipt for the amount paid or to be paid. They are paid at the rate of £6 an hour, he explained.

Mr Lowe alleged that nine claims for care by two child minders submitted by McGurrin were bogus.

The accused, of Collett Close, Scholes, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges of fraud between September 2012 and February 2013 in sums ranging between £94.30 to £417. She is no longer a Wigan councillor.

Mr Lowe told the jury of 10 women and two men that the first charge related to care allegedly provided by a woman called Kate Aspey in August 2012 for £94.30.

“She did not provide child care for her at that time and in those circumstances. When shown a receipt by police she was able to say that the writing was not hers and had not known a claim had been made.

“The defendant provided that false document to justify the hourly rate for child care. It was untrue and the council would not have paid the money out if they knew the true position,” he claimed.

The other charges relate to a child minder called Michelle Taylor. “She did not provide any child care activities for this defendant,” alleged Mr Lowe.

“The Crown’s case is that the respective sums claimed on each of these occasions are for child care allowances where child care not actually provided by Michelle Taylor.”

A combination of circumstances led to the council becoming concerned about the nature of the claims and she was spoken to about them and the police also became involved.

“The defendant was spoken to on September 16 at Wigan police station. She quite vehemently and consistently said the claims were not fraudulent.”

The hearing was told that as part of the investigation Taylor was also interviewed as a witness and said she had not provided child care. After further investigations she was arrested and later pleaded guilty at the magistrates court to her involvement in the fake claims.

Mr Lowe told the jury they would hear from the two women McGurrin claimed had babysat and would be satisfied that her claims to the local authority were fraudulent.