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Coronavirus discovered in separate detention centres High Court hears

CORONAVIRUS cases have been found in three separate detention centres, lawyers and campaigners fighting for the release of detainees reported today. 

At a hearing in the High Court, charity Detention Action went ahead with a legal challenge against the government demanding the immediate release of detainees from immigration removal centres (IRCs). 

The group’s barrister, Chris Buttler, told the London court that three centres now housed detainees showing symptoms of Covid-19.

These included a man held at Brook House, near Gatwick airport, who he said “worked as a food server and was responsible for serving food to other detainees before he fell ill.” 

Mr Buttler submitted that there was “an extremely urgent need to identify and release” all detainees in high-risk groups, adding: “Time is of the essence to stop the spread of Covid-19: hours matter.”

Another case at Yarl’s Wood IRC in Bedfordshire was confirmed by the Home Office on Sunday. 

Detention Action launched itsl action against the government last week, arguing that the Home Office had failed to safeguard against the threat of covid-19 in IRCs. 

Evidence put forward includes a report by public-health expert Professor Richard Coker, which found that the government’s current approach could lead to 60 per cent of immigration detainees becoming infected. 

The High Court had not made a decision by the time the Morning Star went to print, but Home Office lawyer Lisa Giovannetti QC declared today that Detention Action’s claim had “no realistic prospect of success.” 

Ms Giovannetti added that the Home Office was currently conducting a “review [of] the continuing lawfulness of detention in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.” 


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