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- Name: Mirai Shida
- Japanese: 志田未来 (しだ みらい)
- Birthdate: May 10, 1993
- Birthplace: Kanagawa, Japan
- Height: 152cm
- Blood Type: AB
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'I am not a benefits cheat': Les Dawson's widow denies claims after she is questioned over alleged five-figure fraud
The widow of television comedian Les Dawson has been questioned over an alleged five-figure benefits fraud, it was revealed yesterday.
Tracy Dawson, 60, was interviewed along with her long-term partner, John Chadwick, about payments which date back over the past decade.
Mrs Dawson, who was married to the comedian for four years before his death in 1993, was questioned about whether she had falsely claimed a widow’s allowance while living with her new partner.
Probe: Mrs Dawson and her long term partner John Chadwick have been questioned over an alleged fraud involving her widow's allowance
Mr Chadwick, 62, a former insurance broker, is being investigated over income support payments made to him during the same period.
The probe centres on claims that the couple failed to inform the Department for Work and Pensions that they were living together.
Had they done so their payments would either have been stopped immediately or drastically reduced, based on the fact that their income was joined.
Last night Mrs Dawson denied the claims. ‘I am not a benefits cheat,’ she told the Daily Mail.
‘I have not been claiming widow’s allowance. I have not been claiming anything.’
I'm no cheat: Mrs Dawson has fiercely denied the accusations
Mrs Dawson, who was dressed smartly in a beige trouser suit, had been planning an evening out with her teenage daughter when she was confronted with the allegations.
She added: ‘Get off my property or I will call the police.’
A decision on whether or not to charge and prosecute the couple is expected within weeks.
Mrs Dawson, who was left the bulk of the comedian’s £1.4million estate when he died of a heart attack aged 62, has already sat through one formal interview with investigators.
Her partner, twice-married Mr Chadwick, the chairman of Blackpool Panthers Rugby League club, has also been questioned.
‘This is a sad time for both of us,’ he said. ‘It has been hanging over us for a long time now and we hope matters can be drawn to a swift end now.
‘Tracy is obviously upset as she pays all her own bills, all her own council tax and matters like that.
‘What they are saying is we did not disclose we were living together as if it were man and wife. We have both been interviewed once and have taken legal advice.
The investigation was launched eight months ago by the anti-fraud team based in the upmarket Lancashire seaside resort of Lytham St Annes.
They want to establish how long the couple have been living together at the £1.3million five-bedroom mansion left to Mrs Dawson by her husband.
The mansion bears a blue plaque dedicated to Les Dawson on its outside wall and still has the wrought-iron letters P and L on the electric gates.
They stand for Pooh and Lump, the nicknames she and her husband gave one another.
Mrs Dawson drives a blue Jaguar with a personalised number plate bearing the letters JAG and is said to share the vehicle with Mr Chadwick.
A source close to the inquiry said last night: ‘This does not involve a few hundred pounds which could earn someone a formal caution.
‘We are looking at well into five figures. Paying the money back would not affect our decision.’
Mrs Dawson met her husband in 1987 when she worked as a barmaid at a hotel bar near his home.
Les Dawson, pictured alongside his wife Tracy and daughter Charlotte in 1992. Mr and Mrs Dawson were married for four years before his death in 1993
The comedian, who made his TV debut on the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967, was still coming to terms with the death of his wife of 25 years, Meg, from cancer the year before.
At the time eyebrows were raised at the 18-year age gap, and the fact that they had fallen in love so soon after Meg’s death.
But they married in 1989 and in 1992 Mrs Dawson gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte, who is now 18.
A year later, the comedian died from a heart attack during a routine hospital visit.
The majority of his estate was left to his wife and Charlotte, and a further £500,000 was put in a trust fund for his other three children from his marriage to Meg.
But the wording of the will failed to make clear which part of the estate should fund the funeral. After a two-year legal battle a judge found in favour of Mrs Dawson.
She met Mr Chadwick in 1998 through one of her husband’s friends and started accompanying him to local cricket and rugby matches.
Yesterday a spokesman for the DWP said: ‘It is not policy to divulge the names of people we may be investigating.’