7 March 2012
Legendary 1960s pop star PJ Proby (Who had a hot with "Hold Me") fraudulently claimed more than £47,000 in benefits despite performing in a string of tours on which he earned £1,000 a show, a court heard yesterday.
The singer, 73, began claiming income support 12 years ago after saying he was ‘homeless’ with just £5 in savings, prosecutor Nicholas Smith told Worcester Crown Court.
He went on to receive housing, council tax and pension credits, which replaced income support in 2003.
But the jury was told that investigators found £201,000 had been moved in and out of one bank account belonging to the Texas-born star, with tens of thousands of pounds passing through other accounts.
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A cash machine receipt from April 2006, which was found at his home following his arrest, showed a balance of £22,956.06 in one account.
Proby, who appeared in court under his real name, James Marcus Smith, is accused of fraudulently claiming £47,344.64 in benefits between November 2002 and March 2008.
The court heard the singer/songwriter began claiming income support in July 2000 on the basis of illness and had not worked for nine months.
'60's Gold': Proby made £5,000 from one show in Berlin in 2001 but denied having savings or expecting earnings on his forms, the court heard
Showman: PJ Proby admitted to performing in a two-month tour with The Searchers but claimed he had been advised to do a 'small spot' by his doctor as 'therapy' Proby also claimed on the form that he was owed ‘millions’ from the EMI Records label for recordings between 1962 and 2000, but did not expect to receive the cash.
The court heard that Proby had repeatedly ticked the ‘No’ box in benefit application forms or ‘review’ forms designed to check if his circumstances had changed, when asked if he already had savings, investments or expected to earn money in the next 12 months.
He admitted to performing in a two-month tour with The Searchers but claimed he had been advised to do a ‘small spot on the tour’ by his doctor as part of ‘therapy’ for his illness, adding on one form relating to his pension credit payments: ‘My doctors encouraged it. We have had good results.’
Proby said he received expenses for the tour, but ‘not payslips’.
Worcester Crown Court heard that Proby's 18-show ‘60’s Gold’ tour netted the singer £16,200, while he was offered 12,000 Australian dollars from a 14-show tour of the country, but demanded 14,000 dollars.
A UK tour earned the singer between £800-£12,000 per night, while one show in Berlin in September 2001 - a year before his first alleged fraudulent claim - netted Proby £5,000 in cash. It was to be paid ten minutes before the show started.
Proby was arrested at his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, by police accompanied by DWP investigators in July 2007 and was twice interviewed under caution.
The singer denies two charges of cheating the revenue, three charges of making false representations to obtain benefits and four charges of failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefits.