Beauty queen denies benefits fraud
A former Miss Britain competitor falsely claimed thousands of pounds in benefits as a single parent when she was living with her boyfriend, a court has been told.
Rachel Hatton, 29, did not tell South Northamptonshire Council she was living with her partner, Nathaniel Simon, and claimed he was her landlord when she moved into a four-bedroom house owned and lived in by him, it was alleged.
She made claims for council tax and housing benefit, legal aid and income support, and was awarded £511 to cover the £675 monthly rent, Northampton Crown Court heard.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Laura Hobson told the jury of five women and seven men: "The Crown's case is that this was not a commercial landlord-tenant arrangement but by that time the two defendants were involved in a romantic relationship. They had moved in together."
Simon, 36, who owned and rented out a number of other properties, did not make Hatton pay for any utility bills or make up the shortfall in the rent for the house in Foxfield Way, Grange Park, Northampton, the jury heard. It was also claimed by the pair that at times he slept in a caravan on the driveway.
Miss Hobson said the financial arrangement between the pair was exactly what would be expected between two partners. She added: "The whole application was a sham. Both the defendants knew that this was not a genuine tenancy. They both knew that they were a couple."
Hatton and Simon also went on holiday together, she told the court, and Hatton would often be in Leeds with Simon when he was working in the city.
Hatton, of Foxfield Way, denies one count of making false representation, two counts of fraud by failing to disclose information and a further count of fraud by false representation over a two-year period between 2009 and 2011 in relation to the benefit claims.
Simon, of the same address, denies furnishing false information in relation to the tenancy agreement he and Hatton had, and another charge of fraud by failing to disclose information.
Blonde-haired Hatton, who appeared in court on Tuesday wearing a black skirt and jacket with a cream lace blouse, hit the headlines in 2010 after becoming the first single parent/divorcee to be allowed to enter the Miss Great Britain competition. The mother-of-one won the regional title of Miss Warwickshire.