PJ Proby fraud trial is stopped following new evidence
Friday 16 March 2012
American-born pop singer PJ Proby has been cleared of benefit fraud after the prosecution dropped its case following the discovery of new evidence.
Proby, 73, was acquitted of nine counts relating to claims for various benefits after prosecutors found documents relating to the case in an office in Doncaster.
The singer-songwriter smiled in the dock at Worcester Crown Court as he was found not guilty on the directions of Judge John Cavell nine days into a scheduled three-week trial.
Prosecutor Nicholas Smith told the court the Department of Work and Pensions had decided to offer no evidence against the 1960s star after reviewing the newly-discovered material.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had alleged that Proby, who denied all the charges, cheated the benefits system out of more than £47,000 after informing the authorities he had just £5 in his bank account.
During Proby's trial, Mr Smith claimed the singer failed to declare earnings from concert tours, savings and royalties while receiving income support, pension credit, council tax benefit and housing benefit.
Proby, who had yet to give evidence in his defence, was alleged to have committed the offences between November 2002 and March 2008.
Before formally clearing Proby, jurors heard that prosecuting lawyers had decided to offer no evidence after reviewing material which arrived from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, last night.
Mr Smith told the court: "Had the prosecution department (of the DWP) been aware of it, we may well have taken a different view in the trial of the matter.
"It's the Crown's decision that we intend to offer no evidence on each of the counts."
Having taken the new material into consideration, the prosecution was now of the view that there was no realistic prospect of Proby being convicted, Mr Smith added.
Proby, who lives in Twyford, near Evesham, Worcestershire, stood trial under his real name, James Marcus Smith.
After emerging from the court building, Proby echoed the thoughts of American president John Adams, who described the site of the 1651 Battle of Worcester as "holy ground" following a visit to the city in the 18th century.
In a statement read to reporters by his solicitor, Chris Hilton, Proby said: "For the last four years I have lived in fear of becoming homeless - because my housing benefit was cut off - and of being wrongly sent to prison for a crime I never committed.
"In 1786 another American, John Adams, who became a president of the United States, said that Worcester was the ground where liberty was fought for.
"He said that this was holy ground - in 2012 it still is."
Thanking his legal team, Proby added: "I am very happy justice has finally been done. I was not dishonest when I claimed benefits, which I needed in order to live.
"I only performed to give pleasure and not to make money."
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