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£100,000 bill for ex-TV presenter in benefit fraud

A FORMER GMTV presenter wept in court as she was hit with a bill of more than £100,000 after falsely claiming housing benefit.

sporting couple:  Port was once a girlfriend of former Scotland manager Craig Brown.
sporting couple: Port was once a girlfriend of former Scotland manager Craig Brown.

Louise Port was also branded a blatant liar "with considerable affront" when she appeared at Southwark Crown Court, London.

The 38-year-old, who was the girlfriend of former Scotland football manager Craig Brown from 2000 to 2003, still owes Westminster City Council another £10,900 in unpaid council tax.

Earlier this year, Port, originally from Golspie in the Highlands, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of deliberate deception over four years.

She failed to declare she was receiving more than £1000 a month in rent from a flat she owned near Canary Wharf, in which she had £87,000 of equity. She was also receiving £1150 a month from another property in the capital's West End.

As a result, she wrongly received a total of £76,160 in housing benefit between September 2006 and August 2011, which was used to pay off credit card debt.

The judge suspended Port's sentence for two years "as an act of mercy" because she suffers from epilepsy.

However, he said she was fit enough to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and imposed a three-month curfew between 9pm and 6am.

Port, who took part in the London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, was yesterday ordered by Judge Anthony Pitts to pay back the full sum, plus ­inflation, to Westminster City Council.

Port, who appeared in court with cropped grey hair and a trouser suit, cried and dabbed her eyes throughout the short hearing.

Fiona Dunkley, defending, said the sale of Port's flat in Isleworth, west London, would be used to pay her debts.

"She has other liabilities she clearly has to pay," said the lawyer.

Port's father, Campbell, appeared in person to argue he owned more than one-quarter of his daughter's west London flat, as he had helped pay for the purchase. But Judge Pitts rejected his pleas, saying the agreement had no legal standing.

The judge said the father was not entitled to stop the sale of the house by simply claiming, "Well, hold on a minute, 25.55 per cent of that is mine."

Judge Pitts added: "I heard again from Miss Port today. I must confess I found it very difficult to trust a word she says in terms of honesty.

"It is clear to me she lied whenever it suited her to the jury, with considerable affront and despite her sad personal problems … the jury agreed. It seems clear this was a father gifting (£25,000) to his daughter, when she was only 20, starting in London.

"I do not believe - again - what I heard from Miss Port. She has failed to persuade me that this was a … trust in effect by agreement of her father.

"I make the confiscation order in the sum of £91,330.90 in form of a compensation order to ­Westminster City Council. The costs asked for were £30,000-plus. I have ordered costs (to be paid) of £15,000."

Port, of London, must pay the sum to Westminster City Council within six months or face 12 months in jail. She must also pay 50 per cent of the prosecution costs, which amounts to £15,000, making a total bill of £106,330.90.

Port worked on GMTV until 2006 and also worked for Radio 1 and Radio 5 and read the sports news on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show.She lost a £500,000 dis­ability discrimination and unfair dismissal claim against GMTV in 2008. She claimed she was sacked for refusing to work night shifts because of her epilepsy.

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