Housing boss fired over boy killed by flat mould

By Sam Merriman



dmg media (UK)



THE boss of the housing group blamed over the death of a toddler has been sacked following public outrage over the tragedy. Gareth Swarbrick, who was on a salary of £185,000, has been fired by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) just days after saying he would not resign over the death of twoyear-old Awaab Ishak. Awaab died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to dangerous mould three years after his parents first complained about the condition of their flat. They had repeatedly begged housing officials and medical professionals to help. However, no action was taken to treat the mould and Faisal Abdullah, Awaab’s father, was simply told to ‘paint over it’. RBH said in a statement: ‘The board has taken the decision to remove Gareth Swarbrick as chief executive of RBH with immediate effect. Our original instincts were for Gareth to stay on to see the organisation through this difficult period and to make the necessary changes but we all recognise that this is no longer tenable.’ It follows a damning ruling by a coroner that Awaab died after prolonged exposure to mould which caused fatal breathing difficulties. A post-mortem examination discovered ‘severe swelling’ in his airway and throat and tests found fungus in his blood and lungs. Delivering her verdict, coroner Joanne Kearsley told the inquest: ‘I am sure I am not alone in having thought, “How does this happen? How, in the UK in 2020, does a child die from exposure to mould in his home?”’ It comes as Housing Secretary Michael Gove writes to all local authority bosses and social housing providers in England, calling for urgent action to improve housing standards for tenants. ‘I am putting housing providers on notice,’ he said. ‘Everyone has the right to feel safe in their homes and the death of a child like Awaab Ishak must never be allowed to happen again.’