A shamed parish councillor who was sentenced this week after falsely claiming tax benefit said he is “genuinely sorry” for his actions and insisted he was unaware he was breaking the law at the time.

Former Wycombe District councillor Alex Slater, who currently sits on Hazlemere Parish Council, was discovered to be falsely claiming tax reduction benefit after failing to declare tenants were living in is Hazlemere home, in Holmoak Walk, between 2013 and 2015.

This saw the Liberal Democrat falsely claim more than £1,500 in council tax reduction benefit while he was a member of WDC.

A Bucks Free Press readers' poll saw 93 per cent of 596 voters agree that Slater should not remain on remain on HPC, with seven per cent of people thinking he should hold on to his seat.

Slater says he will now take some time off to consider his position on HPC and will make a final decision in the New Year.

He added if members of HPC were to take a vote of no confidence against him he would “happily accept the result".

Slater said: “At the time I put my hands up and struck a deal with the council about paying the money back and I have paid all the money back.

“I was in the wrong and they (WDC) brought it to my attention. Before I was paying my taxes via direct debit so I just carried on as usual – I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong at the time.

“With my tenants there at the time it was supposed to be short term. I was being helpful to them – they had been thrown out of where they had been living so I helped them out to stay with me, and it was longer than expected – about five years.”

Slater – who now lives in Aylesbury - has paid back the amount he falsely claimed.

He has was also sentenced to a 12 month community order with 140 hours unpaid work, and instructed to pay costs of £1,175 on December 14.

The Liberal Democrat was removed from Hazlemere Parish Council in 2014 after it was discovered he had broken election rules by standing as a councillor following a conviction in 2006.

He added: “I am very saddened by all of this. I think I am going to have a couple of months off to review what is going on.

“I live in Aylesbury now so maybe it is time to step down because I can’t truly represent the people.

“At the end of the day I am genuinely sorry that this has happened.

"It was a massive mistake on my part. I have apologised to the local council and I would like to apologise to anyone who has been hurt by this."

Cllr David Watson, Wycombe District Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “I hope that this sentence makes anyone trying their luck and putting in a false claim think twice about their actions and the consequences they could have.”