Customs Raid On Million Pound Council House

Twelve officers emerged with documents and suitcases

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Ealing Council


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An Ealing council house at the centre of a national scandal last year is back in the news after a raid customs raid.

Twelve officers entered the 1.2m Acton house occupied by Afghani mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi and her family and emerged with documents and suitcases.

HM Revenue and Customs refused to discuss the case due to 'taxpayer confidentiality' but confirmed a property in Acton had been visited.

The 36-year-old moved into the detached house last July and receives £170,000 a year in benefits including £12,500 a month for her rent.

Ealing Council has been unable to find the family suitable council housing, and pays rent to a private landlord.

Landlord, Ajit Panesar, is being paid double the normal market value of the property because of another government loophole. Despite the outcry, the council said its hands were tied until this month when the case comes up for review.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell promised to stamp out the practice when the case was first exposed but the family are still living in the house off Horn Lane.

Mrs Saiedi moved to London seven years ago after she fled her native Afghanistan during civil unrest.

She was made homeless from a five-bedroom house in Ealing in 2008 and pleaded with the council for a suitable home but there was nothing available.

As well as seven bedrooms, the house in nearby Acton has two reception rooms, a dining room, two kitchens and an extensive back garden.

Three Ealing council offers were sacked and escorted from the council building for placing the family in the house. They claimed they had been made scapegoats and were taking legal advice.

The Government has asked Ealing Council for a report into its handling of the case.

Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said at the time: ''The system has gone seriously wrong when one family is costing taxpayers so much. The family could be helped without such a large bill.''

July 15, 2009