LSA secures interim interdict against Serco in lock-change saga
At Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday solicitors Rona Macleod and Alastair Houston from the Legal Services Agency and advocate Adrian Stalker represented five asylum seeking clients who had received eviction notices from housing provider, Serco, and who were at risk of having their locks being changed.
The asylum seekers had received a notice telling them their right to occupy the property would terminate at 11.59pm on 4 July 2019 and that if they did not leave, Serco would take steps to evict them.
Their legal team commenced proceedings at the sheriff court, arguing that eviction without a court order was unlawful. The court agreed to grant interim interdict orders, which prevent Serco from carrying out any lock change evictions until the next hearing of the case.
Rona Macleod, of Brown & Co Legal LLP at Legal Services Agency, said: “We welcome the court’s decision to grant interim interdict for these five people.
“We maintain that lock change evictions are unlawful in Scotland, and we will not stand idly by and allow this process to continue. We will continue to take any and all steps necessary to assist people in these circumstances.”
At present the bar on lock change eviction only applies to the five asylum seekers whose cases were in court. Serco has not given any undertaking not to evict other asylum seekers who have been served lock change notices.
A legal challenge brought to the Court of Session by Govan Law Centre on behalf of two asylum seekers facing eviction went in Serco’s favour in April, with Lord Tyre finding its plans for eviction were not unlawful.
Govan Law Centre is appealing the judgement. A motion is being called before the First Division of the Inner House on Tuesday to ask the court to expedite proceedings with an early hearing date.
Robina Qureshi, director, Positive Action in Housing, said: “These court actions have stopped five asylum seekers from being evicted. Good, I would urge Rupert Soames and Serco once more to step back from inflicting a humanitarian disaster on Glasgow by forcing very vulnerable refugees onto our streets.
“We have looked at the cases referred to us: Out of 32 people who have received letters since April 2019 telling them to leave their accommodation, all except one are in the process of trying to resolve their legal situation. Around half are in Paul Sweeney MP’s constituency in the North of Glasgow. Their countries of origin are mainly Afghanistan, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Susan and Syria, They are fleeing war and persecution, and their cases are complex.
“The people Rupert Soames is evicting are also vulnerable, many are frail, sick and elderly. They don’t know what is happening, they don’t necessarily know their rights. There is a significant number of people who are survivors of torture referred to us by Freedom from Torture and people with severe mental health problems. Those with mental health problems and a history of torture are less likely to be able to resolve their legal cases. This is not a story of failed asylum seekers staying in Serco’s run down housing, it is a story of highly vulnerable people in desperate need of proper support.”