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Ex-Miss Britain entrant and landlord acquitted of benefit fraud

Rachel Hatton

Rachel Hatton

 

A former Miss Britain competitor wept in the dock when she was found not guilty of benefits fraud.

Rachel Hatton, 29, had denied falsely claiming thousands of pounds in benefits as a single parent from South Northamptonshire Council.

Prosecutors alleged Miss Hatton had been in a relationship with her landlord, Nathaniel Simon, 36, and continued to claim benefits from South Northamptonshire Council while they lived together in a four-bedroom house he owned in Foxfield Way, Grange Park, Northampton.

Miss Hatton denied the claims and told Department for Work and Pensions investigators that, although she had slept with Mr Simon a couple of times, they had never been in a relationship, the court heard.

She said: “I’ve never had a relationship with Nathaniel. He’s not the sort of guy I would want a relationship with, to be honest.

“He’s my landlord. I can probably understand how it looks now I’ve been brought in but there’s no relationship at all.”

Miss Hatton, of Foxfield Way, faced one count of making false representation, two counts of fraud by failing to disclose information and a further count of fraud by false representation over a two-year period between 2009 and 2011 in relation to the benefits claims.

Mr Simon, of the same address, was accused of furnishing false information in relation to the tenancy agreement he and Miss Hatton had, and another charge of fraud by failing to disclose information.

Today a jury of seven men and five women at Northampton Crown Court cleared the pair of all charges.

Mr Simon, hugged blonde Miss Hatton in the dock as the verdict was delivered.

Jurors had heard that Miss Hatton told investigators the situation between her and Mr Simon was “open and flexible” - he had a key to the property and they would sometimes eat together or watch television in the evening, and she occasionally did his washing.

He was also insured to drive her white Audi car and the pair had been on holiday together to Turkey.

Miss Hatton also told investigators: “We were definitely friends but I’ve not realised until now that all these things I’ve been doing in your eyes have been wrong.”

Mr Simon would often be at the house in the evenings, carrying out improvements to the property, she said.

“He would either then go to sleep in the caravan or go to his mum’s,”

She added.

The pair said Mr Simon slept in a caravan on the driveway of the house while she lived inside.

He ended up living in the caravan, Miss Hatton said, because his work situation changed and he could not afford the mortgage on the house and needed some extra income from renting.

Derek Johashen, for Hatton, asked her: “Did he ever sleep over at the house?”

“No,” Miss Hatton replied.

“Not once?”

“No.”

Miss Hatton hit the headlines in 2010 after becoming the first single parent/divorcee to be allowed to enter the Miss Great Britain competition.

The mother-of-one won the regional title of Miss Warwickshire before going on to the finals of the contest.

She previously served five years in the Army as a telecommunications specialist with the Royal Logistics Corps, spending two years in England, three in Germany, six months in Iraq and two months in Poland.

She discharged herself so her son, who was born in 2003, could be her priority, she told the court.

The court heard during the trial that she is currently unemployed and looking for work as a fitness instructor after taking courses in physical training.

She and Mr Simon made no comment today as they left the court.

 
 
 

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