Pop singer PJ Proby on benefit fraud charges

Wed Feb 2, 2011 9:35am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Pop singer PJ Proby appeared in court on Wednesday, charged with cheating the British state benefits system out of more than 47,000 pounds ($76,200).

American-born Proby, 72 enjoyed British success in the 1960s with a string of hits including "Somewhere" and "Maria" from "West Side Story" and enhanced his fame by being banned from the BBC after splitting his skin-tight trousers during a notorious concert in Luton.

Magistrates in Worcester ruled that Proby, who denies the charges, should be committed to stand trial at the city's crown court, the Press Association reported.

Proby spoke only to confirm his address, date of birth and his real name -- James Marcus Smith -- during a five-minute appearance before two magistrates.

Proby, who lives in Twyford, near Evesham, in Worcestershire, western England faces a total of nine charges over claims for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Among the charges are two counts of failing to declare savings and investments, and four of failing to inform the authorities of a change in circumstances.

He was granted unconditional bail to reappear at Worcester Magistrates' Court for a formal committal hearing on March 30.

(London newsroom; Editing by Steve Addison)