Above: Shelley Coupland
Published: 20 April, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
FORMER Labour councillor Shelley Coupland spoke for the first time this week of her ordeal at having to face an Old Bailey trial after being wrongly accused benefit fraud.
Ms Coupland – whose mother Joan was Islington mayor in 2005 – said she was disappointed to have received little in the way of backing from the majority of her Labour colleagues during the 14-month ordeal – although the opposition Lib Dems had been “very kind” in their support. She added: “The Lib Dems came in where Labour walked out.”
Ms Coupland, who was forced to stand down from St Peter’s ward prior to the case, added: “It has been one of the worst and most stressful periods of my life. On top of everything mum has not been well. But I always knew I was innocent and I’d be cleared of the charges.”
She said residents from her old ward had been supportive throughout the case, which ended up at the Old Bailey last week.
“My mother and I are still being asked to take up issues by local residents,” she said.
“I’m quite happy to help residents. But I never want to get involved in politics again.”
She added that she and her mother were looking forward to a holiday to help get over the episode.
Her mother, a former nurse who represented St Mary’s ward, defected to Labour from the Lib Dems in 2006.
Shelley was elected in May 2006 in a celebrated battle in which the then Lib Dem Town Hall leader, Steve Hitchins, was voted off the council.
Shelley, 41, from Canonbury, strenuously denied any dishonesty while claiming a weekly carer’s allowance for assisting her disabled mother.
Jurors were told that because of the stress of looking after her mother, moving addresses and failing to receive letters from the Department of Work and Pensions, she had not done anything deliberately dishonest and had been confused by form filling.