Judge rules against Asylum Seekers in lock change row

12 April 2019, 14:36 | Updated: 12 April 2019, 14:40


A judge has dismissed a legal challenge brought by asylum seekers at the centre of an eviction row in Glasgow.

Accommodation provider Serco announced plans to issue lock-change notices to tenants refused refugee status last July.

The Home Office contractor said it was forced to act after paying for housing for up to 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow who had been denied the right to remain in the UK.

Two women - a Kurdish Iraqi national and a Kurdish Iranian - launched a legal challenge against Serco and the Home Secretary, arguing their eviction would be unlawful without a court order.

On Friday, Court of Session judge Lord Tyre ruled the arguments were not sound and dismissed the cases.

He said in the judgment: "I am not persuaded that there is anything in either of the pursuers' cases requiring proof before answer.

"On the contrary I am satisfied that neither of the pursuers has made out a relevant case for any of the orders sought."

It was revealed in January that Serco had lost the Home Office contract in Scotland, which will be delivered by Mears Group after September.

A Serco spokesman said: "In August 2018 we said that we unreservedly welcomed the legal challenge as it would enable all parties to clarify what was at that point an untested area of Scottish law.

"Today we have that clarity, and we are pleased that the Court of Session has confirmed our views on the legal position.

"Serco will not be taking any immediate action as a consequence of this decision, but will now discuss with the Home Office, Glasgow City Council and our other partners how best to proceed, given that there continues to be a very significant number of people in Glasgow whose claim for asylum has been refused by the UK Government and who are continuing to receive the benefit of free accommodation, paid for by Serco, some for months, even years."

Govan Law Centre, which represents the women, said: "We will take time to carefully consider Lord Tyre's judgment and meet with our clients to discuss their best options.

"We are very disappointed for our clients, and also for asylum seekers across Glasgow who have been threatened with lock-change evictions."

Mike Dailly, solicitor advocate at the centre, said any asylum seeker threatened with a lock-change eviction in Scotland would need to challenge the decision by lodging an urgent appeal to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal.

He said: "The practicalities of people being able to do so are challenging and not always straight-forward, and Govan Law Centre hopes to explore these serious challenges with partner agencies in Glasgow."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The Home Office takes the well-being of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live extremely seriously.

"We have and will continue to work closely with local authorities and partners to ensure that those who have no right to be in the UK leave their accommodation in a safe and secure way.

"We are working with Glasgow City Council to agree and implement a support advice referral process for those at risk of potential eviction."