Britain on the fiddle

Last night I settled down with my knitting to watch a recording of a BBC “Panorama” programme called (not at all inflammatorily) “Britain on the Fiddle”.  You can watch it yourself here.  Apart from the apparently now obligatory documentary technique of summing up every three minutes what we have just seen in case you have the memory span of a forgetful hamster (“Graham, you will remember, has a council flat in Croydon and a yacht in Normandy”), it was a reasonably well-crafted programme.  I was assessing it as a possible training aid but it’s no go on that front because the laundering is too basic – and, frankly, the launderers just too daft to use as examples.

Graham of the yacht advertises said yacht for sale, meets an undercover reporter to try to flog it, boasts about his property in France, supplies videos of himself roofing that property and sailing to the Azores (not at the same time, of course – do pay attention) – all while claiming disability allowance and council benefits in Croydon.  You’d think he’d be more wary about meeting strangers in London pubs – particularly ones who ask loaded questions such as, “Those roof tiles look heavy – did you carry them on your own?”.  Stephen also claims a council flat from Croydon – while owning a smart pub in Devon and driving a Bentley to the cash and carry to stock up on crisps.  Not exactly living quietly, is it?

So was I outraged?  No.  Was I surprised at the cleverness and ingenuity of these criminals?  No.  In fact, I was disappointed at the grubbiness of it all, and the lack of shame: Bentley-driving Stephen is claiming carer’s allowance for a dead person, and only one person netted in a crack-down on illegal parking in disabled bays showed any embarrassment at all.  I must say that I expect even criminals to show pride in a job well done, but this lot, they were a shambles.

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