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Stoke-on-Trent dog groomer is accused of fraud after getting £240,000 in coronavirus grant mix-up

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stoke on trent dog groomer is accused of fraud after getting 240000 in coronavirus grant mix up

A dog groomer is demanding an apology and compensation after she was accused of fraud when a council’s coronavirus grant mix-up saw £240,000 paid into her bank account by mistake.

Amy Osborne, from Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, was stunned to see her balance swell overnight by £3,000 and then a staggering £237,000 after she applied for support from the Government during lockdown.

The 22-year-old – who had only just launched Dog Grooming by Amy in Baddeley Green – knew there had been a mistake.

She immediately contacted Stoke-on-Trent City Council but struggled to get hold of anyone.

Dog groomer Amy Osborne, from Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, was stunned to see her bank balance swell overnight by £3,000 and then a staggering £237,000 after she applied for support from the Government during lockdown

Dog groomer Amy Osborne, from Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, was stunned to see her bank balance swell overnight by £3,000 and then a staggering £237,000 after she applied for support from the Government during lockdown

Dog groomer Amy Osborne, from Parkhall, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, was stunned to see her bank balance swell overnight by £3,000 and then a staggering £237,000 after she applied for support from the Government during lockdown

31940548 8626763 image m 16 1597393019365

31940548 8626763 image m 16 1597393019365

The 22-year-old – who had only just launched Dog Grooming by Amy in Baddeley Green – knew there had been a mistake as she had put in a claim for a £5,000 grant for small businesses 

Ms Osborne correctly received her £5,000 grant on June 12 before being wrongly sent the £3,000 on June 17 and the £237,000 on July 22. (Above, as it appeared in her bank account)

Ms Osborne correctly received her £5,000 grant on June 12 before being wrongly sent the £3,000 on June 17 and the £237,000 on July 22. (Above, as it appeared in her bank account)

Ms Osborne correctly received her £5,000 grant on June 12 before being wrongly sent the £3,000 on June 17 and the £237,000 on July 22. (Above, as it appeared in her bank account)

When she did finally get through, she says she was threatened with court action despite having done nothing wrong.

Ms Osborne then also had to pay £35 to send the money back and is yet to receive a refund.

It has since transpired the £240,000 was a grant intended for a school in the city.

The city council has now apologised and carried out a review to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Ms Osborne said: ‘When I saw that money, I felt physically sick. I 100 per cent knew it wasn’t mine because I had only been a dog groomer for a couple of weeks.

‘The day the money went into my bank, I went to them straight away and they said they can’t send the money back unless the council request it because it was such a large amount. It’s almost a quarter of a million pounds that the council paid me by mistake.’

The saga started when Ms Osborne first investigated the possibility of financial help after Boris Johnson put the country into lockdown back in March.

She said: ‘The £5,000 grant for small businesses was announced so I put in a claim.

Ms Osborne had to pay £35 to send the money back and is yet to receive a refund. It has since transpired the £240,000 was a grant intended for a school in the city. Stoke-on-Trent city council (offices, above) has apologised and carried out a review to ensure it doesn't happen again

Ms Osborne had to pay £35 to send the money back and is yet to receive a refund. It has since transpired the £240,000 was a grant intended for a school in the city. Stoke-on-Trent city council (offices, above) has apologised and carried out a review to ensure it doesn't happen again

Ms Osborne had to pay £35 to send the money back and is yet to receive a refund. It has since transpired the £240,000 was a grant intended for a school in the city. Stoke-on-Trent city council (offices, above) has apologised and carried out a review to ensure it doesn’t happen again

‘It was a few weeks after that I received £3,000 in my account. I thought the money was part of my £5,000 grant so I never questioned it as I was told it would just be sent over.

‘Then last month I received £237,000 and then realised there had been errors made. The council didn’t even realise they had made the mistake and they didn’t contact me.

‘I eventually found someone to contact and she told me the £3,000 shouldn’t have been mine either and they wanted it all back.

‘With all the money, you get sent a receipt before you get the money to say it was yours. I was sent a remittance with details about the £237,000. I thought it was a scam so I just ignored it.

'I was sent a remittance with details about the £237,000. I thought it was a scam so I just ignored it,' said Ms Osborne

'I was sent a remittance with details about the £237,000. I thought it was a scam so I just ignored it,' said Ms Osborne

‘I was sent a remittance with details about the £237,000. I thought it was a scam so I just ignored it,’ said Ms Osborne

‘I received the breakdown of who they were paying it to and it’s for a school.’

Ms Osborne correctly received her £5,000 grant on June 12 before being wrongly sent the £3,000 on June 17 and the £237,000 on July 22.

She said: ‘My mum has a stall in Longton market which is run by the council. I went to the market manager and he gave me a number for someone because he had done a remittance claim too.

‘The woman I first spoke with said she had been trying to contact me and I had been ignoring my phone. It turned out that the number she was ringing me on was wrong too.

‘I said, “How can you send me that much money and not have the correct email address and phone number?”. 

‘Then she said they will start court proceedings against me. She said, “You need to go to the bank right now and send the money or we are starting court proceedings because this is fraud”. They made the mistake but then tried to pin it on me.

‘I haven’t got the £35 back that it cost me to send the money back. They also said they would refund me the days I missed at work – which is £600 for the two days.’

Ms Osborne – who also successfully received a discretionary £3,000 grant on August 12 – added: ‘I would like an apology and compensation for what has happened. I’ve tried to get that myself and they haven’t listened to me.’

Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Councillor Abi Brown said: ‘Unfortunately we made two payments in error to Ms Osborne, and for this we fully apologise for any inconvenience caused. 

‘We are very grateful for her co-operation in helping to resolve this quickly, and the money has now been fully recovered and allocated correctly. We have reviewed the error to ensure it does not happen again.

‘We have worked quickly in response to the coronavirus pandemic to allocate discretionary grants to as many eligible small businesses as possible. Our aim has been to help businesses at this most testing of times, and we’re pleased to say that we have been able to allocate two grants to Ms Osborne.’ 

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ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Own goal! Rule of law champion Sir Bob Neill MP breaches Commons rules

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anna mikhailova own goal rule of law champion sir bob neill mp breaches commons rules

No politician has emerged from relative obscurity to champion the rule of law more than barrister MP Sir Bob Neill who, as Remainer-in-chief, has noisily led the charge against the Government’s Brexit Bill.

However, he’s been noticeably less forthcoming while under investigation by Parliament’s watchdog over some rather whiffy advocacy.

I can reveal the Tory knight has been found to have breached Commons rules by the Standards Commissioner for failing to declare a financial interest while lobbying for multi-million-pound planning applications in his constituency.

No politician has emerged from relative obscurity to champion the rule of law more than barrister MP Sir Bob Neill, pictured

No politician has emerged from relative obscurity to champion the rule of law more than barrister MP Sir Bob Neill, pictured

No politician has emerged from relative obscurity to champion the rule of law more than barrister MP Sir Bob Neill, pictured

As well as trousering an extra salary for chairing the Commons Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob is also on the payroll of the Substantia Group, a one-stop shop for developers. 

The firm is run by Terry Pullen – boss of Essex nightclub the Sugar Hut – better known as the club of choice in TV’s The Only Way Is Essex. 

Since 2016, Pullen has paid Sir Bob, 68, £50,000 for ‘strategic consultancy advice’.

The MP for Bromley and Chislehurst wrote glowing letters of support on Commons notepaper to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Bromley Council for planning applications from Substantia clients without declaring his paid role.

These included a luxury hotel and football stadium for Cray Wanderers FC, which got the green light last summer despite concerns about Sir Bob’s links to Substantia raised by blogger Dr Alex May.

On top of a monthly stipend from Substantia, Sir Bob received a £10,000 bonus after Khan dropped his opposition to the stadium and its £2.5 million sale went through. 

The MP wrote glowing letters of support on Commons notepaper for planning applications from Substantia clients without declaring his paid role, including a football stadium for Cray Wanderers FC, pictured

The MP wrote glowing letters of support on Commons notepaper for planning applications from Substantia clients without declaring his paid role, including a football stadium for Cray Wanderers FC, pictured

The MP wrote glowing letters of support on Commons notepaper for planning applications from Substantia clients without declaring his paid role, including a football stadium for Cray Wanderers FC, pictured

He declared this in the Register of Interests as a fee for ‘additional strategic and corporate advice’.

Last night the former Planning Minister said he has formally apologised for breaking the Code of Conduct. 

No doubt he’ll now consider which housing charity to donate his £10,000 bonus to.

Firebrand Momentum MP Zarah Sultana raised eyebrows by using her maiden Commons speech to denounce the past ‘40 years of Thatcherism’ – in which she included 13 years of Blair and Brown.

Of the 140 MPs first elected in December, the 26-year-old was the only one to rip up the convention for maiden speeches to be ‘uncontroversial’ – and to throw some innovative expenses claims in the mix.

Rather than accept available help from Commons staff, Sultana hired a private consultancy firm for ‘editing’ videos of her speech and claimed back the cost on parliamentary expenses. One to watch.

Brand Rishi was in full flow last week – leaving tough-guy Defence Minister Johnny Mercer feeling a little battered. In a WhatsApp group, Mercer grumbled about Chancellor Sunak’s jobs scheme announcement: ‘Is it possible to have these graphics with the Conservative logo on, instead of Rishi’s signature? Clearly he is doing a good job, but we are all in this together.’

Once a den of bohemian bad behaviour, London’s Soho has cleaned up its act – symbolised by the area now being newly-favoured by Downing Street advisers. 

They can be found letting off steam over negronis in Frith Street’s many watering holes – thus conveniently avoiding the spies Dominic Cummings has installed in Westminster restaurants. 

Peston’s a flop as Nilsen’s twin 

ITV murdered its rivals by grabbing ten million viewers for its drama about serial-killer civil servant Dennis Nilsen. 

Robert Peston

Robert Peston

David Tennant's Dennis Nilsen

David Tennant's Dennis Nilsen

Robert Peston, pictured left, and David Tennant’s Dennis Nilsen, pictured right

Meanwhile, the broadcaster’s ‘slayer of politicians’, Robert Peston, tells me the portrayal of shaggy-haired Nilsen by David Tennant made him rush to the barber to get his floppy locks tamed and hankering for a makeover. 

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Terror of the e-scooters: Owners post guides showing how to override software to hit 40mph 

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terror of the e scooters owners post guides showing how to override software to hit 40mph

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed dozens of shocking video tutorials encouraging riders to manipulate the battery-powered vehicles and break the law. 

In one clip, a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’. ‘I don’t think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun,’ he adds.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph.

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough 

But our investigation has revealed how, with just a few taps of the device, owners can easily hack into the software and increase the top speed of some of the most popular scooters sold in the UK.

One British e-scooter owner, Dave Samuel, released a video showing viewers how to ‘unlock’ the Inokim OXO Electric Scooter, a popular model on sale in the UK for £1,300.

‘I’m making this video on how to derestrict the scooter from its factory setting of 15mph to full blown 40mph,’ he says, before giving detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to remove the limiter.

In a separate video, another Briton, Duncan Smith, reveals how to ‘hack’ the top speeds for the Xiaomi M365 scooter, another popular model available for £469 in Halfords.

‘By unlocking the scooter, by which I mean the speed limit that’s on it, you can go a little bit faster. I say a little bit faster but I mean this scooter will go like a rocket,’ he says.

In the clip, which sees Smith whizzing along public pavements – which is illegal – and weaving between young children, he explains how users can remove the software that limits the speed to 15mph and reach top speeds of 22mph. 

‘In my opinion, this is the hack that makes buying the Xiaomi Pro an absolute no-brainer compared to other more expensive e-scooters. Once you release the speed limiter on this thing it feels like a proper little rocket. I don’t even think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun.’ 

In a third video, a user explains how a Kaabo Electric Scooter, which sell in the UK for about £500, can be hacked so it reaches speeds of 25mph. In the comments sections of the video, one person wrote: ‘Just hacked my scooter! It really worked! I’m going rocket speed now.’

Last night, campaigners warned that the ‘hacks’ would lead to even more accidents and injuries on the roads. 

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Luke Griggs, Deputy Chief Executive of brain injury association Headway, said: ‘It is extremely concerning to see online tutorials explaining how to remove the speed limiters on e-scooters. The production of such videos is irresponsible and is likely to lead to severe injuries and possibly fatalities. Tragically, it is not just the riders that will be placed in danger, it is innocent members of the public.

‘We are already seeing repeated reports of e-scooters being ridden on pavements at excessive speeds, with the most vulnerable in society being placed in harm’s way.’

Last night, Mr Smith said: ‘There are speed limits in public, so anything over 15mph would be for private use on private land. If you choose to break the law and go dangerously fast in public that is not my doing.’

Charity fundraiser, 57, died after he lost control of his e-scooter on a steep hill in the UK’s second such death, inquest hears

  • Barrie Howes, 57, was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work 
  • Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down a steep hill, inquest last week heard
  • His death is expected to raise questions on e-scooters on roads at high speeds 

By Jonathan Bucks for the Mail on Sunday 

A prolific charity campaigner suffered a fatal fall from his electric scooter in what is believed to be the second such death in the UK.

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic.

The 57-year-old engineering instructor’s death is expected to raise questions about the ability of the e-scooters to navigate Britain’s roads at high speeds. 

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London.

An inquest last week heard Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down Brompton Hill, a steep residential road in Chatham, Kent. He flew off and, despite wearing a helmet, was found by a passer-by suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Howes was airlifted to hospital in London where his condition deteriorated and he died nine days later on July 3.

Detective Sergeant Michael Champion, of Kent Police, said the scooter had a speed of 10 to 30mph but ‘on a steep incline, it would have increased by going downhill. 

He would have been going at quite a speed when he lost control and crashed’, he added.

The inquest heard Mr Howes was unable to drive because of eye problems and was on medication that meant he was more likely to bleed in an accident. 

His wife of 32 years, Claire, said he had been catching the bus to work ‘but it was really when lockdown started that the Government said avoid public transport if you can and he decided to get the e-scooter.

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

‘I want to thank the bystanders [who helped], especially at the moment when people don’t want to get too close.’

Mr Howes underwent heart surgery in 2006 and met Princess Anne through his fundraising efforts for the British Heart Foundation. 

As he undertook a charity trek of Peru’s Machu Picchu, he said: ‘It’s an opportunity to make the most of the second chance in life I’ve been given.’

In a public tribute, friend Karen Wood described him as ‘an outstanding pillar of society’. 

Even in death, Mr Howes helped others and his wife told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Some good has come out of the bad. Three of his organs have helped people to live on, his liver and two kidneys have been transplanted.’

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

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Charity fundraiser, 57, died after he lost control of his e-scooter on a steep hill

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charity fundraiser 57 died after he lost control of his e scooter on a steep hill

A prolific charity campaigner suffered a fatal fall from his electric scooter in what is believed to be the second such death in the UK.

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic.

The 57-year-old engineering instructor’s death is expected to raise questions about the ability of the e-scooters to navigate Britain’s roads at high speeds. 

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London.

An inquest last week heard Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down Brompton Hill, a steep residential road in Chatham, Kent. He flew off and, despite wearing a helmet, was found by a passer-by suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Howes was airlifted to hospital in London where his condition deteriorated and he died nine days later on July 3.

Detective Sergeant Michael Champion, of Kent Police, said the scooter had a speed of 10 to 30mph but ‘on a steep incline, it would have increased by going downhill. 

He would have been going at quite a speed when he lost control and crashed’, he added.

The inquest heard Mr Howes was unable to drive because of eye problems and was on medication that meant he was more likely to bleed in an accident. 

His wife of 32 years, Claire, said he had been catching the bus to work ‘but it was really when lockdown started that the Government said avoid public transport if you can and he decided to get the e-scooter.

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

‘I want to thank the bystanders [who helped], especially at the moment when people don’t want to get too close.’

Mr Howes underwent heart surgery in 2006 and met Princess Anne through his fundraising efforts for the British Heart Foundation. 

As he undertook a charity trek of Peru’s Machu Picchu, he said: ‘It’s an opportunity to make the most of the second chance in life I’ve been given.’

In a public tribute, friend Karen Wood described him as ‘an outstanding pillar of society’. 

Even in death, Mr Howes helped others and his wife told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Some good has come out of the bad. Three of his organs have helped people to live on, his liver and two kidneys have been transplanted.’

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Terror of the e-scooters: Owners post guides showing how to override speed-limiting software to hit 40mph

  • Dozens of shocking video tutorials encourage riders to manipulate e-scooters 
  • In one clip a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’
  • Owners can hack into the software and increase the top speed in just a few taps

By Holly Bancroft for the Mail on Sunday 

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed dozens of shocking video tutorials encouraging riders to manipulate the battery-powered vehicles and break the law. 

In one clip, a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’. ‘I don’t think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun,’ he adds.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph.

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough 

But our investigation has revealed how, with just a few taps of the device, owners can easily hack into the software and increase the top speed of some of the most popular scooters sold in the UK.

One British e-scooter owner, Dave Samuel, released a video showing viewers how to ‘unlock’ the Inokim OXO Electric Scooter, a popular model on sale in the UK for £1,300.

‘I’m making this video on how to derestrict the scooter from its factory setting of 15mph to full blown 40mph,’ he says, before giving detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to remove the limiter.

In a separate video, another Briton, Duncan Smith, reveals how to ‘hack’ the top speeds for the Xiaomi M365 scooter, another popular model available for £469 in Halfords.

‘By unlocking the scooter, by which I mean the speed limit that’s on it, you can go a little bit faster. I say a little bit faster but I mean this scooter will go like a rocket,’ he says.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

In the clip, which sees Smith whizzing along public pavements – which is illegal – and weaving between young children, he explains how users can remove the software that limits the speed to 15mph and reach top speeds of 22mph. 

‘In my opinion, this is the hack that makes buying the Xiaomi Pro an absolute no-brainer compared to other more expensive e-scooters. Once you release the speed limiter on this thing it feels like a proper little rocket. I don’t even think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun.’ 

In a third video, a user explains how a Kaabo Electric Scooter, which sell in the UK for about £500, can be hacked so it reaches speeds of 25mph. In the comments sections of the video, one person wrote: ‘Just hacked my scooter! It really worked! I’m going rocket speed now.’

Last night, campaigners warned that the ‘hacks’ would lead to even more accidents and injuries on the roads. 

Luke Griggs, Deputy Chief Executive of brain injury association Headway, said: ‘It is extremely concerning to see online tutorials explaining how to remove the speed limiters on e-scooters. The production of such videos is irresponsible and is likely to lead to severe injuries and possibly fatalities. Tragically, it is not just the riders that will be placed in danger, it is innocent members of the public.

‘We are already seeing repeated reports of e-scooters being ridden on pavements at excessive speeds, with the most vulnerable in society being placed in harm’s way.’

Last night, Mr Smith said: ‘There are speed limits in public, so anything over 15mph would be for private use on private land. If you choose to break the law and go dangerously fast in public that is not my doing.’

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