Need to Attend an ‘Interview Under Caution’? Here’s why you should give us a call…

For anyone that has received a letter claiming that they are under investigation for benefit fraud, it can cause panic, worry and anxiety. This is a topic that is constantly hitting the headlines, but it’s also the case that many errors (both human and accidental) are often made in the benefit system.

At Hylton-Potts, we always like to reassure our clients that all is not lost when you receive this letter. Our top priority is making sure that you are kept well informed and that your paperwork is in order if you’re being investigated, which is why it’s important to talk to a legal professional as soon as possible, if you feel you may have inadvertently been claiming incorrectly, or that your details may be out of date in the system.

A story recently came to light where one woman supposedly was not so well organized, and it resulted in a stressful and upsetting court hearing after the Benefit Fraud Investigator allegedly sexually harassed her.

What’s the story?

According to reports, the story of Ms Martha Rooney started when she claimed that a letter arrived from the Inland Revenue in April 2014, stating that the department knew she was signing on at the same time as working. Ms Rooney claimed to have misplaced the letter, but wanted to quickly sort the matter out and decided to go to the local Social Welfare Office.

It was then that Mr Andrew Gilmartin, an official of the Department of Social Protection, called Ms Rooney into an interview room, where she informed him she needed help to sort out her benefits situation. She told the court that she stated she had been signing on for five or six weeks, and he replied they would be able to sort it out for her. However, she then informed him that she was back in education, and according to Ms Rooney, he then turned angry towards her and told her this was far more serious and classed as fraud.

According to Ms Rooney, Gilmartin then allegedly left the room before coming back in to say that he would help her, but that they “would have to keep it between himself and myself”. He said he would pull a few strings to get her out of the trouble, but he kept asking “what would I do for him”, which she ignored, telling the court that she “knew something was wrong”.

She continued, saying that: “He sat down, with his feet up on the table and put his hand behind his head,” before saying: “Here’s how it is going to happen. You are going to give me a blow job.” Ms Rooney then claimed that she replied: “No I am not”, before unlocking the door and running until she stopped to ring her partner.

Although Mr Gilmartin was found to be not guilty due to a lack of evidence, the doubt still remains in the public’s mind about whether or not such corruption and distressing situations are placed upon people who enter into these highly-pressured interviews.

Was this an isolated incident?

Last year, we wrote a blog post about another Benefit Fraud Investigator who had been accused of falsifying witness statements to ensure successful prosecutions. Clearly, these kinds of cases are extreme, but it’s true that indiscretions do occur, whether they are tomorrow’s headlines or small errors that go unnoticed.

Regardless of whether these events happened or not, it goes to show what lengths people on both sides of the table will go to, to try and get the outcomes they want from these interviews. Whether it was Ms Rooney falsifying events or an official falsifying documents, benefit fraud investigations can be exhausting and stressful for all involved, but the right procedures must be in place to capture those in the act who are truly defrauding the system.

In the case of the official who allegedly falsified witness statements, although this sort of behavior is very rare, it’s clear that these employees are in a very stressful role, and it’s fair to assume that many will likely feel under pressure to ensure they meet Government targets, and that the current levels of benefit fraud are brought under control.

From the perspective of those under investigation, Interviews Under Caution can often be intimidating, and without legal representation you could find yourself inadvertently admitting to things just because of the language being used and the complexity of the facts, which you may or may not understand.

What should I do if I get a Benefit Fraud Investigation Letter?

Earlier this year, we wrote an article on Interviews Under Caution, explaining why they are held, what fraud investigators and looking for and the kinds of behaviour you can expect. While these investigators are told to stick to a certain number of procedures and protocols, the language used can easily turn aggressive and dominating, in an attempt to make you feel powerless and submit to their questioning more easily. However, such upsetting and nerve-wracking situations can be avoided completely, if you contact us as soon as possible.

At Hylton-Potts, our legal professionals have years of experience dealing with these claims, and we never allow our clients to attend an ‘Interview under Caution’. Instead, we contact the fraud investigator Local Authority, and find out exactly what their concerns are in reference to your case. By doing this, we’re able to completely replace the interview process with a written mitigation package of a written statement, character references and medical reports.

We have a high success rate in avoiding prosecutions and custodial sentences, and we understand the intricacies of benefit law so that we can explain it to you in a calm and no-nonsense manner. If you’ve recently received a letter that says your presence is requested at an interview, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch; you can call us on 020 7381 8111, or via email at [email protected].

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