The public has been hit by a wall of silence from North Tyneside Conservatives in response to whistleblower claims of furlough abuse.
A large document of emails was shared with NewcastleWorld recently suggesting the group had furloughed a staff member who continued to carry out work.
The claims became public when North Tyneside Labour MP Mary Glindon put the accusation to Boris Johnson in the House of Commons last week.
After looking through the raft of emails and evidence, NewcastleWorld reached out to the North Tyneside Conservatives for comment.
The three councillors named in the report, one who supposedly wrongly claimed the money and two others who, according to the whistleblower, reportedly facilitated the abuse, were asked to clarify the situation.
A general contact to the North Tyneside Conservatives was also made.
Days later, and there’s still been no response to the serious claims by the relevant parties.
When contacted by NewcastleWorld, North Tyneside Council confirmed that the allegations were a matter for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
When we contacted HMRC, they confirmed their inability to comment on identifiable taxpayers, nor could they confirm or deny any ongoing investigations into the matter.
An HMRC spokesperson said: "We designed anti-fraud measures into the COVID support schemes from the beginning, and we are taking tough action to tackle fraudulent and criminal behaviour.
"We have blocked tens of millions of pounds of claims being paid out in the first place and we are using the full range of our powers to recover incorrectly paid claims.
"We currently have a number of criminal investigations ongoing, we have opened 27,000 civil inquiries, and have already made 10 arrests for suspected help scheme fraud.
“Anyone who believes an employer has abused the CJRS should search ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and complete our online form."
The emails provided by the whistleblower suggest that, despite being furloughed, a staff member continued to attend Zoom meetings, work on political campaigns, file invoices and move to force a colleague’s resignation.
In one email sent by the person, they describe not going on furlough as losing “the benefit of the furlough saving”.
The Government’s furlough scheme began on March 20, 2020 and stipulated that workers claiming the money must not undertake any work for their employer whilst doing so.
When asked for a response in parliament, Mr Johnson seemed unaware of the whistleblower’s report and said: “I think everybody in this country understands that it was a heroic thing [the furlough scheme].
“I remember that, two years ago, the Opposition were yammering and clamouring for us to go faster—and we did; we produced a fantastic scheme.
“And yes, fraudsters will be hunted down: we have put another £100m into tracking down fraud in this country.”