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Jig is up for fraudster

Prominent stories of benefit fraud live long in the memory.

Keith McNiffe was spotted by officials of the Department for Work and Pensions refereeing football matches in 2008, when he said he could not walk. Liverpudlian Stephen Worton was filmed riding an elephant in India in 2007, on holiday from running his own roofing business, all the while claiming a number of benefits.

Now 67-year-old former teacher Allan Baldwin faces a suspended jail sentence after being filmed Morris dancing despite claiming £28,000 in disability benefits over five years.

The very outrageous nature of such deceptions can provoke humour as well as anger. But anger is the more correct response.

The Coalition Government's assault on the credibility of benefit claimants has been harsh and effective. An impression of widespread fraud has enabled punitive policies and great damage has been inflicted on our social safety net. Yet the vast majority of those claiming benefits are genuine, and in need of support. Any of us could find ourselves in that position.

When a former public servant exploits the public purse in such a way, it undermines the system for all.

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