Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone has strongly denied allegations of benefit fraud relating to his mother-in-law.
The MP has released a lengthy statement to deny the claims, outlined on the front page of The Times newspaper, that the Crown Prosecution Service is looking into allegations assets belonging to his mother-in-law were concealed so Northamptonshire County Council would fund her time in a care home.
The rules state anyone with assets totalling more than £23,250 must pay their own care home fees, with The Times saying police had investigated whether up to £100,000 of his mother-in-law’s assets were deliberately concealed.
There is no suggestion that his mother-in-law has acted improperly.
Mr Bone has said he had done nothing wrong, saying their “integrity, honesty and decency” had been “attacked in the most hurtful way possible”.
In the statement released this morning (Tuesday, February 25) – entitled “My own personal horror story at the hands of the police” – Mr Bone said his home had been raided by police in March last year.
He added: “Then, on April 11, 2013, Jennie (Mr Bone’s wife) and I were asked to go to speak to the Police at Northamptonshire Criminal Justice Centre. It was made clear to us that we were not being arrested, or charged, with anything and that we were just there to answer a few questions.
“Instead of that, when we got there, we were told that someone from Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) had made a complaint against us; so, instead of answering a few questions, Jennie was first questioned for four hours and I was questioned for three. Most of the questions had no reference whatsoever to NCC.”
Mr Bone said he and his wife had been in dispute with the county council about what he called their failure to properly fund his mother-in-law’s care needs.
The statement continued: “Not only have they not complied with the regulations, but equally, they have failed to apply their own appeals system. They have denied Jennie the right of appeal. Unbelievably, they have completely been derelict in their duty to reply to correspondence from Jennie – in one case, taking nearly a year to reply and in other instances, months and months. The responses we eventually received were contradictory and unclear. Then suddenly, without warning, incredibly, in January last year, they issued a writ against Jennie claiming that she owed money. This is now subject to a civil case and as usual, NCC has failed to comply with the deadlines. Am I surprised? No. Am I disappointed? Yes.”
He has also criticised the police, saying: “Since March last year, my wife and I have been living through a surreal nightmare – two people who have always supported and respected the police, who have had their belief shattered.
“Time and time again, the Police promised to return our papers, but failed to do so, until only just recently. This included personal letters and cards from friends and family.”
And he said the experience so far had been hurtful, adding: “For me personally, I thought that the worst time in my life was when Jennie was diagnosed with severe bowel and liver cancer and given very little chance of survival. At that time, our son was only a few months old and it was a complete nightmare.
“However, I was wrong: the last year for Jennie and I has been even worse – our integrity, honesty and decency has been attacked in the most hurtful way possible.
“I have recently written to the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, asking him to address the abject failure of his Force to handle this matter in a speedy and appropriate manner. Jennie has also applied to Northampton County Court to have the case struck out on the basis that there is no reasonable ground for bringing the claim.
“Ultimately, the issue at the heart of this dispute is very simple: either Jennie or I have looked after her mother properly, or we are devious, thieving, crooks. I know the answer to that question and based on all the evidence, which they have, they should know too that we are totally innocent.”
Earlier, Northamptonshire Police had issued a statement confirming the case had been passed to prosecutors.
The statement said: “A 61-year-old man was formally interviewed under caution in April 2013 in connection with alleged fraud offences.
“A police file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2013 and we await their decision.”
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman added: “In November 2013, the CPS received a file from Northamptonshire Police concerning a 61-year-old man formally interviewed under caution in April 2013 in connection with alleged fraud offences. We will reach a decision in this case as soon as is practicable.”
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said the authority was not able to comment at this stage for legal reasons.
The Wellingborough and Rushden Conservative Association has also refused to comment while legal action is ongoing.