Messham says “They sorted it all out, but today they deny it”

January 21, 2005

They sorted it all out, but today they deny it Jan 21 2005, By Matt Withers, Daily Post A CHILD abuse campaigner accused of a £30,000 benefits fraud yesterday insisted he had done nothing wrong.Steven Messham told Warrington Crown Court he had been told he did not have to declare he had up to £40,000 savings – much of it from compensation he received.In addition, money he received when his wife died in 1992 was meant to be a trust fund for their young daughter, he said.Messham, from Buckley, has pleaded not guilty to five charges of false accounting.The 42-year-old told benefits bosses he had little or no savings while tens of thousands of pounds lay in eight different accounts.Messham, a victim of child abuse himself, was chairman of NorWAS, the North Wales Abuse Survivors support group.He was a key figure in lobbying for the setting up of a public inquiry into child abuse in care homes.The jury heard he was placed in a care home aged 12 after being beaten by his father. During this time he was sexually abused by several adults, the court was told.He committed a catalogue of petty crimes during his teenage years, including the forging of social security cheques, the court heard.Yesterday, as his case for the defence opened, he insisted he had “nothing to hide”.The benefits office in Wolverhampton – where he lived before moving back to North Wales – told him money from compensation and life assurance was exempt from means testing, he told the court.He also alleged both North Wales police authority chairman Malcolm King and Flintshire county secretary Andrew Loveridge had helped him sort his benefits out.He said: “This was actually a transfer. Wolverhampton already knew about things.”I already told them in Wolverhampton and they told me it wouldn’t affect my benefits.” Mr King and Mr Loveridge both told the court on Wednesday they had no involvement in Messham’s benefit claims.But Messham insisted yesterday:”Everything was sorted out by Malcolm King and Andrew Loveridge, and they’ve both come here and said ‘no it wasn’t’.” The money was meant to be in a trust for his daughter although the account was in his name, he said. “My daughter lost her mum. It’s her money, isn’t it?,” he said.But in cross-examination, Andrew Thomas, prosecuting, said this claim had only emerged 10 years after the event. Messham said: “If I wanted to hide this money, I’d have put it in an account in the name of Mickey Mouse or Joe Bloggs, wouldn’t I?The hearing resumes on Monday.

IC North Wales

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