Councillor ‘moved’ by support over fraud allegations

Jim Aspinall
Jim Aspinall

An Ashfield councillor who is under investigation for alleged benefit fraud says he has been overwhelmed by the public support he has received.

St Mary’s ward councillor, Jim Aspinall, told Chad that he had endured a ‘living nightmare’ in recent months after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched a probe into his disability living allowance payments.

Coun Aspinall, who has a catalogue of illnesses including prostate cancer, categorically denies any wrongdoing.

After Chad ran a story last week, Coun Aspinall said: “I have had an amazing response.

“I have text messages and phone calls from people supporting me, I’ve been quite moved by it.

“It has done me the world of good and made me feel an awful lot better.

“I even went into the pub on Sunday and people in there said that anybody who knows me know I have health problems.”

Coun Aspinall has had four heart attacks, a triple by-pass operation, has undergone radiotherapy for prostate cancer from which he has still not been given the all-clear, suffers from the bowel condition - diverticulitis, has degenerative spondylolisthesis meaning he has severe pain in his lower back, has high blood pressure and was recently diagnosed as having type-two diabetes.

The 67-year-old, who has to take 14 different pills a day to combat his ailments, received £330 a month in benefits.

Coun Aspinall says the DWP are in possession of video footage showing him at a ‘Save-the-NHS’ march outside King’s Mill Hospital in August last year.

He is briefly spotted walking a short distance.

Coun Aspinall said that he was at the march, but only walked a few metres before driving most of the way.

The investigation was launched earlier this year, but says that he was so unwell on two occasions he was unable to be interviewed.

His plight is backed by letters of support from his GP, the chief executive at Ashfield District Council and the chairman of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, plus he has the support of Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero.

He says he is now waiting on a decision but said: “My conscience is clear whatever the outcome. I will fight this the whole way, I know what I am living with.”