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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Pakistan governor got UK benefits
Dr Ishrat-Ul-Ebad Khan
Dr Ishrat offered to pay back any outstanding money owed
A senior Pakistani politician received UK state benefits for months after returning to the country as a governor.

Dr Ishrat-Ul-Ebad Khan sought asylum in 1992, said the Sunday Telegraph, and claimed benefits from 1999 to 2003.

His spokesman said authorities were told when he left London to become head of Sindh province in 2002, but admitted his wife kept receiving the cheques.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it could not confirm Dr Ishrat's claim that he had repaid some money.

The Sunday Telegraph alleged Dr Ishrat had been in receipt of Income Support worth around 1,000 (59,680 rupees) a month, for 10 months after leaving the country.

She felt that Pakistani politics was so unpredictable that her husband may have been forced to return to England within a few months
Spokesman for Dr Ishrat

The newspaper said Housing Benefit also funded the 244-a-week rent on the north London home in which three of their four children still live, after Dr Ishrat left.

The governor had "unambiguously" offered to return whatever money he may still be owing to the UK authorities, his media advisor Salahuddin Haider told the BBC News website.

A spokesman for the DWP said they could not discuss details of individual cases, but said they took allegations of benefit fraud very seriously and would be looking in to it.

They were first made aware of the allegations when contacted by the Sunday Telegraph, she added.

Mr Haider added that Dr Ishrat's wife had written to the authorities and asked them to stop the payments but she kept receiving the cheques in the post.

Karachi mansion

When asked why she continued to cash the cheques, Mr Haider said she was not sure about Dr Ishrat's status in Pakistan.

"She felt that Pakistani politics was so unpredictable that her husband may have been forced to return to England within a few months.

"Had she discontinued the arrangement at the time, she would have had to go through the whole bureaucratic process to get the payments restarted.

"That was why she kept cashing the cheques till such time that she was certain that her husband was not returning to England."

He said once the cheques were stopped, the couple returned whatever excess money had been drawn.

Mr Haider added that did not know the amount of money that had been returned or what was still left unsettled.

The Sunday Telegraph said since Dr Ishrat's return to Pakistan and his inauguration as a governor in December 2002 he had lived in a two-storey mansion in Karachi.

His wife joined him in October 2003, and currently divides her time between Pakistan and the family's rented home in Edgware, London, it added.

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