Serco lock-change challenge dismissed by Court of Session
Campaigners have raised fears over a fresh wave of asylum seeker evictions after a legal bid to prevent failed asylum seekers being evicted without a court order was dismissed by the Court of Session.
The case against the Home Office and its contractor Serco was launched in the name of two women in Glasgow who were told their locks would be changed.
The private housing provider’s plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow brought pressure from campaigners and charities, including a number of city-based housing associations. It was then forced to temporarily pause the action ahead of the court challenge.
However, the Court of Session ruled on Friday that it would not be taking any more action on the procedure, described by Serco as its “Move On Protocol”.
In a 29-page opinion by Lord Tyre, the judge concluded: “I am satisfied that neither of the pursuers has made out a relevant case for any of the orders sought.”
Govan Law Centre said it was “very disappointed” for its clients.
Solicitor advocate Mike Dailly said that “any asylum seeker threatened with a lock-change eviction in Scotland will need to challenge that decision by lodging an urgent appeal to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal”.
He added: “The practicalities of people being able to do so are challenging and not always straight-forward, and Govan Law Centre hopes to explore these serious challenges with partner agencies in Glasgow.”
Mr Dailly said it will still be necessary for people to first ask the Home Office for continued support and accommodation but if that is refused then it will be necessary to appeal.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We will obviously need to take the appropriate time to consider a complex judgement - and to understand if there is likely to be any appeal.
“We now want to talk with Serco, the Home Office and third sector partners to work through any implications of the decision.”
A Serco spokesman welcomed the judgment.
He said: “Serco will not be taking any immediate action as a consequence of this decision, but will now discuss with the Home Office, Glasgow City Council and our other partners how best to proceed, given that there continues to be a very significant number of people in Glasgow whose claim for asylum has been refused by the UK government and who are continuing to receive the benefit of free accommodation, paid for by Serco, some for months, even years.”