Comedian Danny Blue has escaped jail after pleading guilty to a £22,000 housing benefit fraud.

Mr Blue, 59, of Ross Road, Wallington, has appeared in theatre and cabaret with Jim Davidson, Bobby Davro, Brian Conley and Bernard Manning.

Sutton Magistrates’ Court heard he received housing benefits from 2002 to 2007 after claiming he was unable to work due to ill health.

But an investigation by Sutton Council found he had been receiving payments for comedy performances during the five-year period.

Mr Blue, a founder member of 1980s comedy group The Oddballs and regular performer in Jim Davison’s Sinderella, pleaded guilty to two charges of benefit fraud for failing to declare his income.

On October 10 he was sentenced a community punishment order totalling 200 hours of unpaid work and £800 costs.

Magistrates said his offence would normally warrant a custodial sentence but took into account his early guilty plea and efforts to repay the money.

The council is taking action to recover the full £22,098 claimed by Mr Blue.

Sutton Council’s Executive member for resources Councillor John Drage said: “Benefit fraud is no laughing matter.

“We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who claims money that they are not entitled to and since April the council has prosecuted eight fraudsters and issued sanctions against a further 56 people.

“This amounts to more than £250,000 of taxpayers’ money which has been fraudulently claimed and we are in the process of recovering it."

Coun Drage added: “In these difficult financial times this is money that we need for essential services.

“Our investigation team and benefits officers also work hard to make sure that benefits go to those people in genuine need."