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NEW COUNCILLOR ON BENEFIT FRAUD CHARGE

17 June 2010

John Prendergast
johnp@southwarknews.org

EXCLUSIVE
A new Labour councillor only six weeks into her new role has been suspended from the party, after appearing in court accused of benefit fraud.

Keadean Rhoden, 23, won a seat in The Lane ward in Peckham on May 6. She appeared at Camberwell Magistrates' Court last Friday where she entered no plea to the three allegations of falsely producing documents or information to obtain benefit or payment.

At the short hearing Cllr Rhoden only confirmed her identity before her lawyer asked for a three week adjournment, which was granted by the court. The lawyer representing Southwark Council entered no objection.

Despite the allegations of claiming housing benefit while being a student, and then separately while working as a cashier, Cllr Rhoden, who lives in Decima Street in Peckham, insists she will carry on her case work.

She told the 'News': ""I am innocent, I will be pleading not guilty and will work vigorously to clear my name so I can get on with the job of serving the people who elected me."

New council leader Peter John said: "She [Cllr Rhoden] has been suspended as a member of the Labour group and a representative of the Labour party."

He added that an internal investigation would not be completed until the court case had been concluded, but defended the vetting process of new councillors.

He added: "I've looked into it and I am not concerned about our vetting process. There are no questions we could have asked that would have brought this to light. I would have expected a Labour candidate to have raised any concerns they have of this nature."

Lib Dem Deputy Whip, Cllr James Barber, said that it was a serious charge and that any allegations concerning benefit fraud should be properly investigated.

At the last election Labour took control of the council by securing 35 seats, 21 of which are either new councillors or were re-elected after a period away from the position.


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