The boss of the housing association that ran a flat in which a toddler was killed by exposure to mould has been sacked.
Gareth Swarbrick, the chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), has been removed after days of political pressure.
A coroner ruled that Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom flat managed by the organisation.
Now ex-staff at RBH have told Sky News they fear more people could die - and claimed the organisation was "toxic" and "unfit for purpose".
Only two days ago Mr Swarbrick apologised but said: "Having spoken to the board, I can confirm that I will not be resigning."
By this afternoon the board had decided to sack him "with immediate effect".
Awaab's family criticised Mr Swarbrick for failing to resign and the board for expressing confidence in him before sacking him.
A lawyer for his parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, said they were "deeply saddened that following this inquest, RBH did nothing but express their confidence in their chief executive, despite in the courtroom, doing everything to indicate that significant changes would be made.
"The fact that RBH's chief executive had to be sacked as opposed to resign, for the family, speaks volumes.
"However, they find it wholly unacceptable that the board expressed confidence in him in the first place.
"The family still feels that much more needs to be done and a further statement will be released in due course."
'Very serious questions to answer'
A government source "welcomed" the removal of Mr Swarbrick, but said the board has "very serious questions" to answer.
"It is welcome that Gareth Swarbrick has been removed for his profound failings as RBH chief executive, but RBH and their board still have very serious questions to answer.
"Why did they give him their full backing after the coroner's report and as recently as 24 hours ago?"
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, will "continue to take a very close interest in RBH and will stand up for tenants as necessary", the source said.
Mr Gove earlier this week said it "beggars belief" Mr Swarbrick was still in office.
Awaab's death, two days after his second birthday, was caused by "extensive" mould in his family's flat, a coroner concluded - describing the case as a "defining moment for the housing sector".
In her ruling Joanna Kearsley asked: "How does this happen? How in the UK 2020 does a two-year-old child die due to exposure to mould?"
His family accused RBH of racism after the inquest concluded, insisting they have "no doubt at all" they were treated this way "because we are not from this country".
They said: "Rochdale Boroughwide Housing we have a message for you - stop discriminating, stop being racist, stop providing unfair treatment to people coming from abroad who are refugees or asylum seekers, stop housing people in homes you know are unfit for human habitation."
Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale borough council, was among mourners attending a vigil for Awaab this afternoon.
He told Sky News: "It's a strange decision because only 48 hours ago they were backing Mr Swarbrick to the hilt, but I think it is the right decision."
RBH said its "original instincts" were to keep Mr Swarbrick in post to "see the organisation through this difficult period and to make the necessary changes".
However, the board now recognised this is "no longer tenable".
"As an organisation we are deeply sorry for the death of Awaab and devastated that it happened in one of our homes," it said in a statement.
"His death needs to be a wake-up call for everyone in housing, social care and health."
After the conclusion of the inquest Mr Swarbrick said he was "truly devastated" about the tragedy and "the things we got wrong".
Addressing racism accusations, he said: "As a community-owned organisation we support the diverse communities of Rochdale.
"We are proud of the work we do with all our tenants."