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Court allows Serco to carry out lock-change evictions on asylum-seeker homes

150 refugees living in Glasgow in properties provided by the Home Office contractor now face homelessness

ASYLUM-seekers face being kicked out of their homes without a court order after losing a legal challenge over lock-change evictions today.

Scotland’s Court of Session ruled in favour of asylum housing provider Serco, backing its decision to carry out lock-change evictions without court orders — which are illegal in Scotland.

The decision means that 150 asylum-seekers living in Glasgow in properties provided by the Home Office contractor now face homelessness.

Solicitor Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre who brought forward the appeal said the ruling was “inhumane” but vowed to take the legal battle to Britain’s Supreme Court.

He said: “I think this is a truly sad day for human rights law in Scotland. The effect of today’s ruling is that the UK government can outsource its statutory and international legal obligations as a private company.

“Scotland’s highest civil court has ruled that Scotland’s asylum-seekers can be evicted without the need to go to court.

“How does that fit with a modern, progressive, outward-looking 21st-century Scotland?”

The legal challenge was brought after Serco threatened to remove asylum-seekers from their homes using lock-changes in 2018, affecting around 300 people.

While many have now progressed their legal cases, and Serco have lost the contract to provide such housing, around 150 people remain under their care.

Scottish refugee and human rights groups condemned the court ruling, warning that it sets a “dangerous precedent” for the future of housing for asylum-seekers.

Scottish Refugee Council chief executive Sabir Zazai said: “We’re bitterly disappointed by today’s decision. This galling verdict leaves hundreds of men and women in Glasgow at risk of lock-change evictions and immediate street homelessness.

“People are very anxious and very stressed. The people we work with do not have family networks in Scotland or friends with spare bedrooms where they can stay in a crisis. People have no options.”

Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said the decision “should shame us into action” and called on the government to “do everything they can to protect the dispossessed.”

In a comment that will do little to reassure asylum-seekers of their uncertain future, Serco said: “We would not seek to remove more than 20 people in any one week from their property, so it will take us several months at least to finally hand back all properties to their owners.”

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