Serco to be challenged in court over asylum seeker evictions again
A legal bid to stop the eviction of asylum seekers in Glasgow will return to the courts after Govan Law Centre (GLC) confirmed it will appeal last month’s Court of Session decision that the lock changes were not unlawful.
Private housing provider Serco’s plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow brought pressure from campaigners and charities, including a number of city-based housing associations. It was then forced to temporarily pause the action ahead of a court challenge.
However, GLC failed to persuade the courts that Serco was acting unlawfully.
The Court of Session held that the evictions were not incompatible with human rights law because asylum seekers still have a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) against a decision to terminate their accommodation.
The appeal, backed by Positive Action in Housing, the homelessness and human rights refugee and migrant rights charity, comes as Serco restarts the process of lock change evictions, without informing key partners as promised in court.
Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, said: “We strongly support this appeal against the Court of Session judgment and have committed to working with Govan Law Centre, and supporting those families involved in the appeal with crisis support.
“Frankly, it is impractical for someone trying to resolve their legal status, and who is being forced out of their home in a matter of days, to get recourse to the First Tier tribunal. The timescales for each process do not match up.
“On the one hand, Serco is intent on carrying out lock changes immediately. On the other hand, to get legal recourse from a First Tier Tribunal takes months. By the time the destitute refugee or asylum seeker got to the First Tier Tribunal they would already be destitute or homeless. So in effect there is no legal recourse.”
As of last week, Serco has started to send letters of termination to asylum seekers, which Ms Qureshi said “make no mention of the legal right to seek recourse to the First Tier Tribunal, ineffective as it is” and “tell people to leave immediately”.
She contrasted this with Serco’s earlier statement that it “would not be taking any immediate action” as a result of the court ruling.
Ms Qureshi said: “The Court of Session should be fully cognisant of the games that SERCO appears to be playing, making promises to be reasonable in court, and then telling people to get out immediately”.
A meeting to discuss the implications of the Court of Session judgement for asylum seekers in Glasgow will take place at Positive Action in Housing on 23rd May 2019. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.