Wagner 'could face benefits probe'
Published 05/12/2010 | 16:10
X Factor reject Wagner could face an investigation over claims he falsely claimed incapacity benefit, the Work and Pensions Secretary said.
Iain Duncan Smith said the Brazilian, famed for his extrovert performances on the talent show, will be "asked to come in and explain himself" to benefits officials after reportedly claiming he was unable to work because of a frozen shoulder.
The wildcard entry, voted off last week, told producers of the ITV programme before he signed up that he was receiving payments.
Speaking on Sky News' Sunday Live with Adam Boulton, Mr Duncan Smith said: "One of the people who was working on his case, I understand this, I don't know precisely, noticed he (Wagner) was managing to leap in the air with his arms held above him when I am told that he had a frozen shoulder and frozen shoulders tend to mean that you can't have your arm in the air; it's impossible and therefore he was off work.
"I suspect he will find he will be asked to come in and explain himself as to why he was on benefits in the first place.
"If you don't mind me saying so, it (Wagner's case) illustrates the biggest problem we have got, which is incapacity benefit has grown like mad."
Mr Duncan Smith said some claimants had not been seen for nine years while the most recent figures available under the Labour Government showed nearly half of those who applied successfully for incapacity benefit had referred themselves.
He added: "They didn't see any medical people, they didn't see even some of the job centre staff, they are just on incapacity benefit and this means that they are not eligible for work. It's a real mess and it costs billions of pounds every year."
A spokeswoman for the X Factor has previously denied the former PE teacher, whose performances were described as "bonkers" by judge Simon Cowell, had done anything wrong, adding he contacted benefits officials prior to taking part in the show.