Hamza faces benefits probe

Evening Standard, Jan. 22, 2003
By Patrick McGowan, Evening Standard

Hardline cleric <A HREF="javascript:zoek(Abu Hamza al-Masri')" "javascript:void(0);" onmouseover="return overlib('Click for archived news items on this subject’, CAPTION, ‘Link Info…’, HAUTO, VAUTO, SNAPX, ‘5’);” onmouseout=”return nd();”>Abu Hamza faces investigation over claims he fraudulently accepted state benefits while preaching at Finsbury Park Mosque.

For 10 years he has enjoyed benefits and allowances thought to be worth £350 a week. They include disability allowances and income support from the Government and housing benefit from Hammersmith and Fulham council, which pays for his £230,000 three-bedroom property in Shepherd’s Bush.

The council is now looking at whether Hamza has benefited from claims for another property in the area, thought not to be in his name.

It was claimed today that Hamza sold a former council flat, acquired under the right-to-buy scheme, for a profit of up to £100,000. He rented the flat in Adie Road, Hammersmith in 1996 then sold it in 2001.

The leader of the Conservative opposition on Hammersmith council, Greg Hands, said: “He made a killing on his Adie Road flat. I would imagine he made between £80,000 and £100,000.”

Social Security investigators are also interested in what Hamza was paid as a preacher at the mosque, where he expressed support for Osama bin Laden. And they want to know if he profited from book and video sales at the mosque, raided by anti-terrorist police early on Monday.

A source said: “Outwardly Hamza lives quite a frugal life but we strongly believe he uses several different identities in order to claim benefits in addition to those he is legally entitled as a British citizen and for his disabilities.”

Hamza says he has not worked since he lost an eye and both forearms while, he claims, he was clearing mines in Afghanistan in 1993.

The cleric gained British citizenship from his marriage in 1984 to a British woman. He is now divorced.

When questions about the benefits he claimed were first raised he said: “I have never lived off their money. I paid lots of taxes to the non-believers while working as an engineer.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 22, 2003.
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