Peterborough’s new mayor insists the past should be forgotten as he prepares to become the city’s First Citizen - 17 years after being jailed for housing benefit fraud.
Cllr Gul Nawaz was jailed for two months in 2002 for falsely claiming £3,000 of housing benefit from the city council, where he is a representative for Ravensthorpe.
The fraud was carried out between January 1995 and April 1996 with Cllr Nawaz caught by the council after it received an anonymous tip-off in September 2001. He served one month of his sentence.
Under council rules the 12 month position of Mayor of Peterborough is offered to the most senior sitting councillor who wants the position and has not held it before.
Cllr Nawaz has been put forward for the role and is set to receive his chains of office at the annual ceremony this evening (Monday) in the Town Hall.
There was criticism previously when the Conservative politician was chosen as deputy mayor in 2008, but he told the Peterborough Telegraph: “I don’t think it’s an issue because whatever happened, that was last century. I have been elected as a councillor five times and as deputy mayor. I can’t see any problems.
“I will do my best to be the voice of individual groups and businesses and bring them closer together. I’m proud of Peterborough and its citizens.
“I will try my best to deliver everything with a smile on my face. It’s a great city and I’m looking forward to working together in the community.”
Cllr Nawaz’s three chosen charities for the year will be the Friends of Peterborough Hospital, Carers Trust and Little Miracles.
Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the opposition Labour group, said last week: “Gul was proposed at the previous council meeting in March and was not challenged. As things stand we as a group do not intend to challenge the decision.”
He added that Labour would finalise its decision at a group meeting before this evening.