Sunday, March 13, 2011

Iron Maiden singer banged up

Not Bruce Dickinson - he's still flying - but the guy he replaced, Paul Di'Anno. Di'Anno - or Paul Andrews, as he's officially know - has been found guilty of claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax payments despite, erm, going around the world touring.

(Just a sidebar: little disappointed to see the Guardian describe council tax benefit as "council tax handouts" in the report - did a sub from the Telegraph slip in?)

Clearly, he's in the wrong, and his defence:

"He was obsessed with music and performing. He is very naive in terms of business matters and has no formal education," [Steven] Ritter [defending] said.
Mmm. I think you'd be stretching naivety a little far to suggest you might not know you had to declare earnings from concert tours while telling the social you'd got a bad back. Even ET might struggle to convince he didn't understand that one.

The odd thing is the DWP response, though. It doesn't appear in the online version, but it was in the print edition of the Guardian:
A DWP spokesperson said: 'Benefit fraud is a crime. This money is intended to provide valuable support to those most in need, not line the pockets of people earning substantial amounts from their celebrity status."
Leaving aside the unedifying sight of a civil servant using pious tabloidese, you can only assume the spokesperson churned out their reaction without knowing any of the details.

Andrew was hardly "earning substantial amounts" - indeed, the court heard that he had hardly any money (reading between the lines, it sounds like he was touring mainly for fun rather than as a way of earning money); and since when did being 'the singer in Iron Maiden who, when people mention him, is always described as "no, the other one" count as "celebrity status"? It's a status which would struggle to get you an invite on Call My Bluff, isn't it?

More importantly, in sentencing, the court made it clear that his status wasn't relevant in any way to the case:
Sentencing Andrews, who lives in Salisbury, Jane Miller QC, told him: "Your public persona is not relevant."
The judge didn't think it was relevant, so why was the DWP making hay from it?