Ex-councillor’s friend admits fraud

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A WIGAN woman who signed off childcare expenses receipts on behalf of former councillor Emma McGurrin has admitted fraud.

Michelle Taylor claimed she was paid £40 a time to put her name to acknowledgments of payment on behalf of the ex-Standish councillor between June 26, 2012, and February 19 last year.

McGurrin, 35, has also been charged with fraud and is due to appear before Liverpool Crown Court in September – she has previously vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard how councillors are able to claim expenses for childcare allowance while on official council duties for up to 20 hours a week.

Katie Beattie, prosecuting, told how Taylor, 32, continued to sign off childcare receipts in McGurrin’s name until Wigan Council bosses became suspicious last February.

In a police interview Taylor claimed she had never provided childcare for McGurrin but had been paid £40 each time she wrote a receipt on her behalf. She subsequently pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation on her first appearance before the courts.

Bob Toppin, defending, told how his client was “desperately sorry and ashamed” of her actions.

He alleged that she had been “taken advantage of” by a long-standing friend at a time when money was tight.

Mr Toppin claimed: “Doing a friend a favour proved too much of a temptation.”

Magistrates handed Taylor, of Durham Street, Whelley, a nine-month community order in which she must participate in the WISER specified activity requirement.

She was also ordered to complete a six-week curfew between the hours of 8pm and 8am and to pay £35 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.