A FORMER Tetbury mayor who is accused of benefit fraud has elected jury trial at Gloucester Crown Court.
Ann Pearce, age 57, pleaded not guilty to dishonestly failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to benefit between May 6, 2020 and November 9, 2022 at Cheltenham Magistrates Court yesterday. 
The charge alleges that her physical capabilities had improved and that this affected her entitlement to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The Department for Work and Pensions' case is that Pearce, of Upton Gardens, Tetbury, claimed £27,314 in PIP payments which she was not entitled to.

Ted Jackson, defending Pearce, told the court that she does not accept the allegations of dishonesty and the issue for the trial jury will be the extent of her disability. 

The defence has 32 witnesses to give evidence on behalf of Pearce at the trial, he added.

Presiding Justice Andrew Hedges committed Pearce to Gloucester Crown Court for trial and granted her unconditional bail pending her first appearance at a pre-trial preparation hearing on Friday, April 26.

At a previous hearing the court was told that Pearce had suffered an industrial injury while working in the health and social care sector.