Court cries foul over Welsh referee in benefits scam


Magistrates in Wales showed a town's mayor the yellow card on Monday after he was caught refereeing football matches while claiming state disability benefits.

Keith McNiffe was found to have officiated at 67 games over two seasons while claiming just over £9,000 (Dh63,000) in hand-outs for being too ill to walk.

The 49-year-old stepped down as mayor of Pembroke in western Wales to fight the allegations, but later admitted two offences of failing to notify the authorities of the change in his condition.

His defence lawyer told the court his client's original claim had been legitimate after a thyroid and stomach operation, but he acknowledged he had not informed officials when his condition improved.

A court in Haverfordwest handed him a four-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, ordered him to complete 200 hours' unpaid work and pay £75 in costs.

He will also have to repay the money he claimed illegally.

After the case, the chief fraud officer for Wales, Brian Evans, said in a statement: "Magistrates gave him a yellow card, which sends out a clear message to everyone out there.

"He was given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to do unpaid work and will now have a criminal record. Any other offence and the result will be a sending off."

The prosecutor in Monday's case was called Alex Ferguson.