Oct 11, 2006

Nice racket

Abu Hamza, an Islamist preacher who was convicted in the UK for soliciting murder, bought a house for £220,000 in cash while running up a taxpayer-paid legal bill for £250,000.
Hamza, 48, who preached at the Finsbury-Park mosque, was sentenced to seven years in February for soliciting murder. The house was bought while he was on remand in Belmarsh highsecurity prison.

But his assets are supposed to have been frozen by the Treasury under anti-terrorism sanctions which should have prevented him buying and selling property.

Hamza's family live at the taxpayer's expense in a £600,000, five-bedroom council house in Shepherd's Bush. His wife Najat Chaffe and up to eight children claim a reported £680 a week in benefits.

Hamza's new house in Hicks Avenue was bought, according to Land Registry documents obtained by the Evening Standard, in October 2004.

The purchase of the house was uncovered by investigators working for the Legal Services Commission (LSC), the government body in charge of Britain's £2billion legal aid budget.

The discovery of the house may now enable authorities to claw back at least some of the money spent on Hamza's defence.

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