Northern Ireland

Call for inquiry into Saver/Naver fraud allegations

Dominic Bradley
Image caption SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the BBC Spotlight report raised serious issues

Politicians have called for an inquiry into the financing of victims groups after a BBC Spotlight investigation revealed how a south Armagh group defrauded thousands of pounds of public money.

The group, Saver/Naver, has raised millions of pounds since it was set up.

But the BBC uncovered evidence of widespread fraud.

The allegations made in the programme have been strongly denied.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the programme raised "very serious issues" about the management of public funds by the group.

"These are issues which need to be fully investigated by government to establish the weaknesses in procedures which have brought about this situation," he said.

The Spotlight programme produced evidence of fraud including the faking of cheques and invoices to draw down public money.

Strongly denied

The allegations, which were supported by a whistleblower, included fraud involving a PSNI grant.

The group had an image as a model victims' group, with its chairperson Reatha Hassan awarded an OBE by the Queen for her voluntary work.

Mrs Hassan, and Sabine McAllister, who was also named in the programme as being involved in the fraud, categorically denied all the allegations made against them.

Police are investigating the claims.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the programme raised "very serious issues" about the management of public funds by the group.

"These are issues which need to be fully investigated by government to establish the weaknesses in procedures which have brought about this situation," he said.

The TUV's Jim Allister said that as an MEP he had helped Saver/Naver and was "greatly saddened" by the revelations.

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