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Contempt of court proceedings against sisters who lied to obtain social housing ended after public apologies

Two Huddersfield sisters who made false claims to secure social housing have admitted lying to Kirklees Council and to the Court.

Hannah Rafiq (29) and Ayshia Rafiq (30) of Trinity Street, Huddersfield, in 2013 applied for a council property, saying that their mother had asked them to move out.

The council said that five months on, not being a priority for housing, the sisters re-applied as homeless, saying they were suffering “honour-based” domestic violence from their father. Soon after they were allocated a three-bed property in Batley.

Investigations by Kirklees found the house was not being used and that the siblings continued to live in Huddersfield with their mother.

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In individual statements made before a committal hearing was due to take place, the sisters said: “Neither I nor my sister or brother lived at the house in Batley, and I accept that I should not have said that it was our only or principal home. We remained during this time at the family home in Huddersfield which is owned by our mother.

“I am very sorry for the damage caused by our actions in depriving a family in real need of accommodation by making unavailable a three-bedroomed house for four years.”

Kirklees said the sisters when investigated continued to lie to council officials about their use of the property and at a five-day possession order hearing brought by the local authority in 2017.

The council added that false statements made in the witness box led it to bring proceedings for contempt of court which were due to be heard in the High Court in Leeds 24-28 May 2021.

The court has accepted the sisters’ public apologies as an end to the proceedings and commented that the council had been sensible in negotiating a settlement to avoid the high costs to the public purse of a five-day trial.

The sisters also avoided the risk of being sent to prison or fined at the end of a trial. Hannah Rafiq has already paid thousands of pounds in legal costs to the council, Kirklees said.

The Court will decide at a short hearing whether the sisters should pay any further costs.

Naz Parkar, Service Director for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Kirklees Council, said: “Social housing exists to meet a need in our communities to offer shelter to the most vulnerable and in need. The deception of these sisters led to a property not being able to house a family in need for four years.

“The Rafiq sisters admit deception and have learnt the consequences of their dishonesty and realise they were close to a prison sentence. I would like to praise our investigative team who work tirelessly to ensure our houses are occupied by genuine claimants. I would also like to thank the members of the public who brought their concerns to our attention.”

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