A former weekly newspaper newspaper columnist dubbed “Mr Angry” has admitted more than £50,000 of benefit fraud.
Prolific letter-writer Clive Wilkins-Oppler was given a column by the Kentish Gazette which earned him a cult following and an appreciation society on Facebook.
But he has now admitted pocketing more than £51,500 in income support and council and housing benefit to which he was not entitled after the Gazette led the way in covering the case.
The 47-year-old, who was not paid for his column by the KM Group, pleaded guilty to two charges of making fraudulent claims when he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court.
Gazette editor Leo Whitlock said: “We found ourselves in the very unusual position of uncovering the fact one of our unpaid columnists was facing fraud charges.
“We broke the initial story and have followed every twist and turn of the case. Wilkins-Oppler’s guilty plea topped our www.kentishgazette.co.uk and www.kentonline.co.uk websites yesterday and appeared on page three of this week’s paper.
“The controversial nature of his column and the fact he was a prolific letter writer to every local newspaper in the patch, means there has been enormous interest locally.”
The offences were committed between 2006-11 when Wilkins-Oppler failed to declare that he had assets which would have meant any claim for benefits would be rejected.
Philip Rowley, defending, said he had since repaid more than £48,000 of the money which he was not entitled to.
Sentencing has been adjourned until next month and Wilkins-Oppler was bailed until his next court appearance.
He had written numerous letters to the paper before being given his own column, which sparked the creation of a Clive Wilkins-Oppler Appreciation Society by Facebook fans who dubbed him “Mr Angry of Canterbury”.