No Saver/Naver charges after seven-year PSNI investigation

Reatha Hassan OBE. Former secretary of the Saver/Naver victims' group in Co Armagh. 
Picture: Brian Little
Reatha Hassan OBE. Former secretary of the Saver/Naver victims' group in Co Armagh. Picture: Brian Little

A police investigation into a Co Armagh victims’ group has ended with no criminal charges being brought against anyone.

Markethill-based Saver/Naver was formally dissolved in 2014 – three years after a BBCNI Spotlight programme broadcast a whistleblower’s claims of fraudulent activity taking place.

Spotlight said the alleged fraud included the “faking of cheques and invoices to draw down public money,” but those claims were strenuously denied by Saver/Naver (South/North Armagh Victims Encouraging Recognition).

Saver/Naver was set up to “promote the relief of poverty, sickness and distress, and the preservation and protection of health among the inhabitants of south and north Armagh area...for the benefit of those who are suffering or have suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the families of such persons who are in need.”

Following the programme, a spokeswoman for the PSNI said that police investigations into Saver/Naver had been ongoing since the previous August.

“Detectives are continuing to investigate an allegation of fraud at a charitable organisation in south Armagh. We are not planning to make any further comments at this time,” she added.

Speaking through her solicitor after the allegations were broadcast, the group’s then secretary Reatha Hassan said: “I was not aware of any wrongdoing or fraudulent activity within Saver/Naver as wrongly alleged in the Spotlight broadcast.”

“I was stunned by the alleged revelations contained in the programme and have initiated a full internal investigation which is currently being carried out within the organisation.”

She added: “I am additionally cooperating fully with the police in connection with their investigation into the allegations.

“I have instructed lawyers in respect of the defamatory allegations contained in the programme and the matter is now in their hands.”

Ms Hassan had been awarded an OBE for her voluntary work.

The programme also contained allegations regarding Reatha Hassan’s daughter-in-law, Hilary Hassan.

However, she also rejected all allegations of wrongdoing at the time.

She said: “I hold sufficient qualifications in respect of the role that I was assigned to within Saver/Naver, contrary to the allegations in the Spotlight programme.

“I was employed by the organisation on the basis of those qualifications and not for any other reason, as wrongly implied by the programme,” she added.

Also speaking in 2011, TUV leader Jim Allister said that as an MEP he had helped Saver/Naver and was “greatly saddened” by the turn of events.

According to Companies House, Saver/Naver was dissolved in February 2014.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police can confirm that an investigation has been carried out and no charges have been brought.”