Brighton drag queen Betty Swollocks convicted of benefit fraud
A drag queen performer in Brighton has been convicted of benefit fraud totalling around £6,000.
Appearing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 62-year-old John Townsend, who uses the stage name Betty Swollocks, admitted four counts of benefit fraud between November 2007 and September 2011.
He did not attend court as his alter-ego but instead wore a sober pinstripe black suit, yellow tie and black shoes.
Townsend had told Brighton and Hove City Council that he was unemployed whilst performing at gay venues in Brighton’s Kemptown area – and also claiming housing and council tax benefits.
Len Batten, prosecuting on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council, said Townsend “demonstrated a reasonable understanding of the benefit system”.
He added: “He said he did work as Betty Swollocks at the Queen’s Arms.”
However, Townsend’s defence lawyer claimed he was “not aware” he was committing a crime by working as Betty.
Jenna Threadgold, defending, said: “The work was sporadic at £25 a night, not a substantial amount of money.
“He was homeless living in a hostel. He is extremely remorseful.”
Townsend was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, pay £500 costs and will have the amount he illegally claimed deducted from his benefits.
Townsend, who has had a double hip replacement and suffers from a heart murmur, is still working as a drag queen in Brighton.