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Camden New Journal - By PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 17 January 2008
Housing officer’s £67,000 rent fraud

VICTIMS of a housing officer who stole more than £60,000 from key workers are still waiting for their money to be returned to them almost a year after the thefts were discovered.
Jan Harris, the 51-year-old housing manager at the Crown Estate-owned Cumberland Market estate in Regent’s Park, this week pleaded guilty to 34 charges of deception and theft amounting to £67,000 of rents and deposits.
Crown, which owns more than 250 flats for key workers on the estate, launched a probe into financial irregularities last February.
Ms Harris admitted accepting cash payments for rents and deposits
in contravention of
the Crown Estate’s rules, then keeping
the money for herself.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court she spoke only to confirm her name and address in Senrab Street, Stepney, before her defence barrister indicated her plea of guilty to all charges.
But the ordeal is far from over for her victims, some of whom remain technically in rent arrears because of Harris’s actions, despite a lengthy internal investigation by Crown auditors before the police were called in.
Chef and mother-of-two Anita Dennison, who works at Regent’s Park barracks, said: “When this first happened I had interviews with the auditors, and they promised that all the money she had off me I would get back with interest. But because she has my two months of rent it makes me in arrears, which means it is impossible for me to apply to move to a bigger flat. I have two boys, 16 and 13, in a two-bedroom flat.”
Ms Dennison des­cribed the extraordinary lengths that Ms Harris went to in order to extract rents, twice meeting her in Camden Town shops so she could do her the “favour” of taking late cash payments.
A spokesman for the Crown Estate said yesterday (Wednesday): “The Crown Estate has apologised to tenants for any hurt or inconvenience caused by Ms ­Harris’s actions and has also provided assurance that no tenant will lose out financially as a result of these irregular­ities.”

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