Jailed: Lawyer and ex-councillor Muhammad Harun for housing fraud
PUBLISHED: 18:18 15 November 2019 | UPDATED: 19:59 15 November 2019
A solicitor and former councillor has been jailed for running a seven-year housing fraud in which he bought two properties including his own terraced cottage in Barking then illegally sub-letting his council house.
Muhammad Harun, who was elected to Tower Hamlets Council in May last year, purchased his house in Lancaster Avenue and another in the East End while keeping his council tenancy in Poplar.
He was jailed for 16 months on Thursday, November 14 after having previously pleaded guilty to two fraud charges.
The length of time in which the frauds were committed with false declarations warranted a jail sentence, a judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court said.
"You made hundreds of bids for social housing," Judge Justice Sanders told him. "Yet you were a beneficiary of accommodation you were not entitled to."
The judge also ordered Harun to pay nearly £125,000 compensation to Tower Hamlets Council for providing him with years of temporary accommodation that could have been used for a genuinely homeless family.
Harun stepped down as a councillor last December when an investigation was started into the properties he purchased while sub-letting the council house he claimed was his home address when he was elected.
Harun was a solicitor at a law firm in Dalston supervising a team of solicitors and caseworkers representing "the most vulnerable in society".
He said in a press interview when the scandal broke: "I will clear my name, but thought it best to step down and let others take over, as it's not wise or prudent for me to continue."
His fall from grace came after a brief seven-month meteoric political career in which he chaired the council's pensions committee which oversees £1.5billion investments and was on its housing scrutiny committee which ironically oversees fraud issues.
Harun first applied for council housing in January, 2006, when evicted from his mother's property. He went into temporary accommodation with his family for the next four years, then given a permanent three-bedroom house in Poplar in 2010 which he held onto for seven years while quietly purchasing his own house in Lancaster Avenue in 2017 and another in the East End in 2013.
At no time did Harun tell the council that he had bought the properties or that his circumstances had changed, even when elected a councillor.