Customs Raid On Million Pound Council House

Twelve officers emerged with documents and suitcases

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Seven-bed house in Acton off Horn Lane

The seven-bedroom house off Horn Lane where Mrs Saiedi lives with her seven children

David Lewis - one of the Ealing Council officers sacked for placing the family in the house

Jawad Saindi

Jawad Saindi


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The Acton home at the centre of a national scandal last year is back in the news this week after a raid by customs officers.

Twelve officers entered the 1.2m council house occupied by Afghani mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi and her family at 7.00am yesterday and later emerged with documents and suitcases.

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

The 36-year-old moved into the detached property 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 therefore pays rent to a private landlord. 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.

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.

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.

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

Ealing Council have been asked for a report by the Government into its handling of the case.

Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said, "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 10, 2009