Linda Nolan to appear in court over £12,000 benefit fraud shame
Pop singer and actress Linda Nolan is to appear in court for alleged benefit fraud totalling £12,000, it has been reported.
Nolan - who delighted Grand Opera House audiences in Belfast as she took to the stage for a panto and musical - said she would pay it all back.
"I've been an idiot, so call me ignorant and stupid - but please don't call me dishonest. I want people to know it wasn't intentional," she told the Sunday Mirror. "I just want to hold my hands up and say I am sorry. I will pay it back in full."
Nolan (56) was made aware of her local council's investigation into overpayment of benefits last May, the newspaper said. She had failed to declare occasional income from TV appearances and a problem page in a local magazine.
She readily agreed to repay the £12,000 bill and thought the matter had been dealt with - until last week when she received a court summons.
The newspaper says Nolan had suicidal thoughts and severe depression after losing her husband Brian to skin cancer in 2007 - and her sister Bernie to breast cancer two years ago.
Linda herself was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was taking part in a panto run at the Opera House in 2005. She starred in Snow White as the Wicked Queen alongside May McFettridge and Eamonn Holmes. She returned to Belfast in 2008 for Willy Russell's tearjerker, Blood Brothers.
At the time, she told the Belfast Telegraph that "life without Brian is a nightmare".
"He was my soulmate and I miss him terribly. I'm making a stage comeback at the Opera House in the Mrs Johnstone role in Blood Brothers - if it was any other production I mightn't bother, but this is such a worthy show that it is a kind of helpful even though it is so intense."
She insisted she notified the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) when she got jobs, including a reunion tour with The Nolans in 2009 and a stint on Celebrity Big Brother last January.
She received a letter from the DWP at Christmas saying its investigation was closed. But this week she was stunned to receive a court summons to Blackpool Magistrates Court for failing to disclose her earnings and for the overpayment of housing and council tax benefits, the newspaper said.
She is due to appear later this month, it added.
Linda said: "I've never been in trouble in my life and the thought of going to court is horrifying and frightening. I have thought of another way out but I'm holding on with my fingernails, trying not to slip back down the ladder."