A former firearms officer who once served on Tony Blair’s close protection unit is facing allegations that he swindled £61,000 in benefits.
Vaughan Dodds, 43, was a serving police officer with Durham Constabulary at the time when he is accused of staging a five-figure fraud, it is claimed.
It’s understood during his 14-year career he was a member of the armed protection team based at Myrobella House, in Trimdon, County Durham.
The £300,000 terraced property - originally built for the village pitmen - was once the constituency home of Tony Blair when he served as leader of the opposition.
Dodds, who lives in Gardeners Place, Langley Moor, County Durham, is accused of 12 counts of making false statements to dishonestly claim income support tax, disability living allowance, and council tax benefit.
Some of the charges involve making a claim on behalf of his wife, Mandy.
Yesterday the married firearms specialist made his first appearance at Consett Magistrates’ Court.
Wearing a grey jacket, blue knitted jumper and dark blue jeans, he answered only to confirm his name, age and address. Prosecutor Blair Martin told the court there were “significant aggravating features” to the case.
Dodds’s solicitor, Emma Richards, told magistrates he would be withholding his plea and the case was adjourned until later this month.
Following the hearing Dodds limped to his silver BMW convertible car which was parked outside the court.
Dodds is thought to have started his career with Durham Constabulary in December 1993 until he left the force in December 2007.
For a 10-month period in 1998 he worked at Myrobella House and police records confirm he was a member of the armed protection team between February and November.
It is thought his time in the post coincided with a visit by French former prime minister Lionel Jospin who drank beer in a Sedgefield pub in 1998.
Myrobella House once welcomed US President George W Bush before it was sold in 2009 for £300,000 - 10 times what the Blairs paid for the four-bedroom pit manager’s house in 1983 when he was elected as MP for Sedgefield.
Elected as Prime Minister in 1997, Mr Blair was in his constituency when he paid his tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales following her death, when he famously said she was the “People’s Princess”.