|In response to allegations that Basildon Council fabricated evidence in a fraud trial Lorraine Browne, Solicitor to the Council, said:|
"Basildon Council rigorously denies that it fabricated evidence in a fraud investigation concerning Mandy Barratt. We were presented with evidence, in the form of an Echo newspaper article which prompted us to carry out an investigation.
"This newspaper article concerned a planning application and the living arrangements of Mrs Barratt. We are absolutely satisfied that on the evidence of that newspaper article a fraud investigation was fully justified.
"Where we made a mistake was to describe the evidence as an anonymous phone call. This was an error and it is regrettable but we have since taken stringent steps to ensure that something similar does not happen again.
"While we fully accepted the findings of the benefits tribunal in 2010 we have also reflected very carefully on this case and subsequently are very clear that we have explained our position a number of times. There is nothing to be gained from further dialogue with Mrs Barratt.
"This council will continue to rigorously investigate any circumstance where we have reason to believe that a fraud may have taken place and public money subsequently misused."