Byline: Paul Sims and Nick Fagge
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 last 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.
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.'
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 [pounds sterling]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. …