Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Singer PJ Proby 'cheated benefits system out of £47,000'...

Pop star PJ Proby cheated the benefits system out of more than £47,000 while claiming he had only £5 in his bank account, a court has heard.

The 73-year-old singer, from Twyford, near Evesham in Worcestershire, appeared at Worcester Crown Court under his real name of James Marcus Smith.

He denies nine charges relating to benefit payments in the period between November 2002 and March 2008.

The court heard he was being paid for concert tours but said he had no work.

Prosecutor Nicholas Smith said the singer told the Department of Work and Pensions he was "effectively homeless" when he first claimed income support.

He told the court: "What the Department of Work and Pensions alleges is that, far from being out of work and having no money or income, he in fact was in receipt of undeclared income from various concert tours around the world and from royalty payments."

The court was told documentation showed that hundreds of thousands of pounds had passed through one of the singer's accounts between January 2004 and February 2008.

Tour contracts

A bank statement that revealed a balance of about £23,000 from April 2006 was among the documents.

The jury also heard that there were details of offers of work and various tours, including a deal worth £5,000 in cash to perform in Berlin in 2001.

The singer claimed that a two-month engagement alongside The Searchers had been a form of therapy advised by his doctor.

He conceded that he had received expenses but denied receiving pay-slips.

The lawyer told the jury: "The essence of this case is that he had income and savings that he should have declared.

"The Crown say this was not just therapeutic... standing on stage for 10 minutes or so - it was a lot more than that."

During two interviews with investigators in 2007, the accused was taken through documentation relating to his claims. He admitted much of what was put to him.

But the prosecutor added that the singer had maintained that he was "doing rather less" than investigators thought he had been doing and that money he had been getting was used for expenses.

"Basically he denied that he was dishonest," Mr Smith concluded.

The singer denies two counts of cheating the public revenue, four of failing to notify the authorities of a change of circumstances and three of making false representations.

PJ Proby had hits in the early 1960s with songs such as Hold Me and Together.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Source: BBC

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