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Libel, fraud and child trafficking


Or ‘On the Naughty Step…’

Thanks to Mark P for the idea, I bring you news of scandal and criminality from the world of housing, albeit with only the most tangential relationship to housing law.

Gentoo, a Sunderland based RSL and its CEO, Peter Walls, won a £100,000 libel judgment against a website called Dads Place and specifically John Finn, the owner of rival housing firm Pallion and a former local council candidate. The anonymous website had been posting “seriously defamatory allegations ranging from corruption to nepotism and the promotion of female employees in return for sexual favours” said Gentoo’s Counsel. Pallion owned numerous properties in areas earmarked for demolition and renewal by Gentoo. The allegations had led to a Housing Corporation investigation of Gentoo. Worth noting this as another example of a determinedly anonymous website failing to be protection against defamation claims, although it took quite some effort to pierce the veil.

Collapsed and bust RSL Ujima, formerly the largest BME housing association and now part of London & Quadrant, is not going quietly. Three former employees have been arrested for money laundering and conspiracy to defraud, amidst allegations that the Housing Corporation acted late and had plenty of warnings of problems.

Then there is this extraordinary story. A London-based housing officer has been convicted of illegally bringing a child, a baby, into the country, apparently to preserve her priority need status on a homeless application after her children went to live with her ex-husband. The day that she returned from Nigeria with the baby, for which £150-£200 was apparently paid, Peace Sandberg presented as homeless at Ealing Council’s HPU to make a fresh application. The child’s original family is not known. I may be being naive but I can’t believe that this is all there is to the story.

News permitting, this may become an irregular feature – On the Naughty Step may return.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. simply wondered

    wonder whether there are any issues around that behemoth notting hill housing trust?
    unless they would be defamatory, of course.
    is behemoth defamatory?

  2. Nearly Legal

    Not in the public sphere as far as I know.

    Behemoth (n) (1) something enormous in size and power. (2) often Behemoth A huge animal, possibly the hippopotamus,described in the Bible.

    Defamatory? Surely not. ‘Leviathan’, maybe, but only if they read Hobbes.

  3. simply wondered

    i imagine the employees of certain rsl’s must be doing something with their time…

  4. K

    In the client’s case files in relation to notting hill housing trust it transpires that the quality of certainty of the 19’000 properties owned and managed by notting hill housing trust remains unclear. The land registry records identify the properties as held in trust but there is in recent times no mention of notting hill housing trust as a “trust”. They simply refer to themselves as “notting hill housing” dropping out the word “trust”. The RSL had scuttled its identity as a trust of a charity and purports to be a commercial private landlord instead in what is interpreted as a massive property scam because the paperwork identifies they were touting for wills and testaments in order to receive free houses in testaments from the out set.


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