Boss sacked following Ham & High probe

An investigation by the Ham &High has led to the sacking of the boss and finance manager of a housing association set up to help refugees.

Chief executive of Arhag Housing Association Ron Moodley was sacked last week after it was alleged he was involved in a £500,000 fraud. Arhag's finance manager was also sacked.

Moodley, who was awarded an MBE for his services to "community and refugees" in 2003, had his bank accounts frozen by Housing Corporation officers investigating him for fraud after the Ham & High's two-month investigation ended in March.

The weekly title's Wood & Vale edition reported that residents in Arhag-run housing who requested repairs were treated with disdain and threatened with eviction.

It also revealed a photograph purporting to show Moodley and Bob Geldof together on stage at a national housing conference was a fake.

The paper also reported allegations that the housing association was using a climate of fear to take advantage of refugees, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged people.

Ham & High editor Geoff Martin, involved heavily with the investigation which was spearheaded by reporter Andy Tristen, said the investigation began through a classic case of somebody coming to the paper with documents.

Martin said: "It was obvious to us something was very wrong as a result of stuff that we were seeing that didn't square with Arhag's public face. We met with some residents, they tended to be disadvantaged people, [we thought] maybe there's a reason that they don't speak up.

"Andy Tristen was taken into their confidence and they raised issues which were of obvious concern, such as the way people who were getting accommodation through Arhag were treated."

He added: "It also emerged that there had been this probe by the ombudsman, that seemed to have been hushed up to all intents and purposes.

"One of the failings of the ombudsman's office is that they're not always keen to make their findings public when there are matters of public interest."

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