Author: LAURA PATERSON
A lawyer believes that Serco plans to “act unlawfully” over proposed evictions of rejected asylum seekers in Glasgow.
The public services group has said it intends to evict up to 300 asylum seekers in the city who have been refused refugee status.
Serco – which provides accommodation for asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office – issued six of those affected with a notice that their locks will be changed within seven days on Monday.
Historically, lock changes have not been used for those who remain in asylum accommodation despite the Home Office ruling they will not be granted refugee status and withdrawing their funding and support.
Mike Dailly, of Govan Law Centre, said his solicitors are working with MPs, the local authority and charities to identify those affected with a view to raising legal proceedings to prevent summary evictions.
He said: “These are very vulnerable families living in our city and they deserve full legal protection to ensure that due process is being followed. We have a number of our senior lawyers looking at this right now.
“We are convinced that Serco are proposing to act unlawfully. And we will be taking cases before the Scottish courts.
“This is a complex area of law and it’s very unlikely vulnerable people can just be summarily evicted in the way Serco propose.
“Scots common law has long since prohibited eviction without due process of law against residential occupiers.
“In Scotland, it is generally necessary to obtain a decree for ejection from the court as opposed to taking the law into you own hands – known as summary eviction or eviction brevi manu – which is generally a criminal offence and a civil wrong.”
The lock change plan has sparked condemnation from members of all major political parties, except the Conservatives, with councillors and MPs teaming up to write to the Home Secretary calling for a u-turn.
The letter from Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken warned those evicted are more likely to become homeless than leave the UK and said it risks creating a “humanitarian crisis” in the city, placing people at “imminent risk of significant harm”.
Serco said it has been providing housing free of charge and without recompense from the Home Office, in some cases for months, for former asylum seekers with no right to stay in the UK.
The company said it is sympathetic to those affected but believes it has been “more than supportive” and has started legal proceedings for repossession as these residents “no longer have any right to continue to live in the property we provide”.
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