Govan Law Centre calls on Serco to suspend all asylum seeker evictions pending Court of Session ruling

Lawyers for public service provider Serco have confirmed no eviction proceedings will take place against Govan Law Centre’s client and her partner for the time being.

Serco provides housing for asylum seekers while their applications are considered by the Home Office.

However, it said earlier this month that it planned to evict tenants who had exhausted the asylum application process.

While there is now no need for an interim interdict hearing at the Court of Session, GLC’s case will proceed in terms of the legal principles in dispute

Serco boss Rupert Soames has welcomed the challenge to the company’s attempts to evict asylum seekers from its properties, saying legal action could “bring clarity to an area of law that some people feel is unclear”.

Govan Law Centre’s principal solicitor and solicitor advocate Mike Dailly said: “The Office of the Advocate General in Scotland confirmed [yesterday] evening that our client was now being provided with asylum support for housing and subsistence under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 following a new application for asylum.

“Serco has confirmed no eviction will take place while that is the case, however, our client remains at risk if her support comes to end in the same way as the other 330 asylum seekers under the threat of eviction in Glasgow.”

He added: “After GLC lodged proceeded in the Court of Session last Friday – and after pressure from MPs and campaign groups in Glasgow – Serco then agreed to give those six asylum seekers 21 days’ grace, and to place all other asylum seeker evictions on hold pending a court ruling on the legality of DIY evictions.

“GLC believed this to be an inadequate response. It did not give our client and others proper protection from eviction. Serco publicly ‘unreservedly welcomed’ a legal challenge, ‘as it will enable all parties to clarify an area of Scottish law which has so far been untested’.

“GLC’s point is that there is no possibility that this complex legal dispute can be settled authoritatively within 21 days.

“This is why we are calling on Serco to put all asylum seeker DIY lock-change evictions on hold until the Court of Session can rule on this issue.

“This is another step towards protecting the human rights of asylum seekers in Scotland. It is a victory for campaigners, housing associations, and elected members in Glasgow. We thank everyone who has worked hard to defend asylum seekers rights. Of course, the legal challenge is not over. It has only just begun.”

Meanwhile, housing charity Shelter Scotland yesterday filed papers at Glasgow Sheriff Court preventing two tenants being issued with lock-change orders.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Shelter Scotland utterly condemns the decision by Serco to force from their homes individuals and families that have arrived in the city seeking asylum.

“We want the Home Office and Serco to stop this deplorable and inhuman course of action.”