ULSTER Unionist MP Tom Elliott (right) has strenuously denied allegations that he provided a character reference for a convicted benefit cheat but has refused to provide the contents of the letter submitted to the court.

Enniskillen man Clive Miller who received almost £40,000 in fraudulent benefit claims while he had nearly £300,000 in two banks and properties in Spain received a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

During his sentencing at Dungannon Crown Court on Monday, Judge Paul Ramsey QC said he had received a testimonial from a “senior politician” which spoke “glowingly” of the 47 year old’s work in the voluntary sector.

Mr. Elliott has confirmed to The Impartial Reporter that he did in fact provide a statement to the court about the former soldier from Coleshill Crescent but refused to provide a character reference.

“When I was contacted by Mr. Miller’s legal representatives, I was asked to provide a character reference for him. I made clear that I would not do that. In response to a query I confirmed that I knew of him and the context in which I knew him. I also wrote to the trial Judge to make clear that I had not provided a character reference for the defendant.”

Mr. Elliott has refused to share the letter with this newspaper, saying: “I have been advised by my legal representative not to release the letter.”

When asked why he thought it was appropriate to respond to the query about Miller in the first instance, the MP said: “I am asked on a regular basis various questions about individuals, companies, departments such as if I am aware of them, how I am aware of them and some details on them.”

“Any allegation or suggestion that I offered support to the defendant in this case is unfounded and untrue. Fraud is wrong and what Mr. Miller did was completely wrong and I condemn it,” he added.

Mr. Elliott, who has written to the Lord Chief Justice seeking clarification on how his statement was used in court, said he is unsure if he is the senior politician referred to.

First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster was adamant that she has not supplied a reference or “any other letter” in relation to Miller when contacted yesterday.