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Changing locks on failed asylum seekers' homes ruled legal

Court challenge against Home Office house provider repossessing properties thrown out.

Serco wanted to change the locks to force asylum seekers out.
Serco wanted to change the locks to force asylum seekers out. STV

A court has ruled that a Home Office housing provider does have the right to repossess properties occupied by people whose claims for asylum have been refused.

Campaigners protested against plans by private firm Serco last year to change the locks on the homes of 240 failed asylum seekers in Glasgow.

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

The Court of Session has now ruled that the company was acting within the law.

Judge Lord Tyre said: "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."

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1429302-all-serco-asylum-evictions-on-hold-ahead-of-court-case/ | default

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

Serco said it would now hold talks with the Home Office and Glasgow City Council.

Julia Rogers, managing director of Serco's immigration business, said: "Serco notes today's decision by the Court of Session confirming our right to repossess property occupied by people whose claim for asylum has been determined by the UK Government, but who nevertheless refuse to move on when asked to do so.

"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."

'We are very disappointed for our clients, and also for asylum seekers across Glasgow who have been threatened with lock-change evictions'
Govan Law Centre

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." 

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."

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