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Former Wolverhampton councillor cleared of fraud

[Press center6] time:2023-05-30 19:18:41 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center4 click:115order

A former councillor and cabinet member has had his conviction for Covid fraud overturned.

Harman Banger and wife Neena Kumari, of Bilston Road, Wolverhampton, had been found guilty of fraud by false representation in December.

The charge stemmed from an application for a £10,000 small business loan grant to run a takeaway site during the pandemic.

A judge at Birmingham Crown Court overturned the conviction on Thursday.

Mr Banger, 41, who had sat on Wolverhampton City Council, was suspended by Labour when allegations emerged. He said after the verdict was overturned he had been victim to a "serious miscarriage of justice".

The conviction related to a grant applied for by Mrs Kumari in April 2020 for Pizza Plus, a firm owned by both.

The "awful ordeal" had ended his political career, Mr Banger said.

"Despite my full cooperation with the investigation conducted by both the police and the Wolverhampton City Council, I was wrongly charged along with my wife," he said.

"Whilst I appreciate the need for potential fraudulent Covid Grant applications to be was clear that in my case the investigators failed me."

Deepak Vij from ABV Solicitors, who represented Mr Banger, said the case had been "woefully investigated".

Wolverhampton City Council declined to comment.

The BBC has approached Wolverhampton Labour group for a comment.

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