Awaab Ishak death: Board sacks boss at housing body that ran home where boy, 2, was killed by mould

Awaab Ishak death: Board sacks boss at housing body that ran home where boy, 2, was killed by mould

The chief executive of the housing body which ran the home in which a toddler was killed by exposure to mould has been removed from his post.

A coroner ruled that Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom flat managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH).

Its chief executive Gareth Swarbrick has been removed after days of political pressure.

On Thursday, Mr Swarbrick apologised but said: “Having spoken to the board, I can confirm that I will not be resigning.”

Yet, on Saturday, the representative body chair and vice chair and the board of RBH said in a statement: “The board has taken the decision to remove Gareth Swarbrick from his post as chief executive of RBH with immediate effect.

“We will now work to appoint an external interim chief executive.”

RBH said its “original instincts” were to keep Mr Swarbrick in post in order to “see the organisation through this difficult period and to make the necessary changes”.

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However, the board now recognises this is “no longer tenable”.

“As an organisation we are deeply sorry for the death of Awaab and devastated that it happened in one of our homes,” the statement continued.

“We must ensure this can never happen again.

“His death needs to be a wake-up call for everyone in housing, social care and health.

Gareth Swarbrick, chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), has been sacked

The coroner noted RBH had made changes in the wake of the tragedy.

“Under new leadership RBH will continue to embed these changes and to continue to drive further improvements to our homes and to our communications with tenants,” the statement said.

RBH vowed to share lessons about the health impact of damp, condensation and mould with the social housing sector and to support sector-wide changes.”

“We will work with other agencies local and national and with central government in implementing the wider changes recommended to them by the coroner.

“We support the Coroner and Housing Ombudsman’s call for the government’s Decent Homes Standard to be strengthened to include damp and mould.

“There will be no further statement at this time.”