Serco Scottish refugee eviction case goes to appeal

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Glasgow demonstration
Image caption,
Attempts by Serco to remove people from accommodation prompted days of protests in Glasgow

An appeal is to be lodged against a legal ruling making it easier to evict migrants from rented accommodation.

The Court of Session last month dismissed a case brought by two women against the Home Office and its contractor Serco.

They had sought to prevent locks being changed on their accommodation after they had been refused refugee status.

The Govan Law Centre, which brought the action, said it will appeal against the ruling.

Another 330 people in Scotland are said to be in a similar situation to the women at the centre of the case.

Serco had welcomed the Court of Session decision but indicated it would not be taking any immediate action as a result.

The 29-page opinion by Lord Tyre was published on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

After considering the issue, judge Lord Tyre concluded: "I am satisfied that neither of the pursuers has made out a relevant case for any of the orders sought."

Changing locks

Govan Law Centre brought the case last August in the name of an Kurdish Iraqi national Shakar Ali and a Kurdish Iranian national Lana Rashidi.

The defenders in both cases were Serco and the Home Secretary, but in Ms Ali's cases a third party - Serco's former sub-contractor Compass SNI Limited - was also named.

The appeal is on behalf of Ms Ali.

Mike Dailly, solicitor advocate at Govan Law Centre (GLC), said: "GLC believes our client has reasonably good prospects and grounds of appeal.

"We were delighted that Lord Tyre held Serco was a public body for the purpose of the Human Rights Act 1998 - something that both Serco and the Home Office had strongly resisted at the debate in February this year.

"Our understanding is that jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights - which has been followed in appellate courts in the UK - requires the interference with our client's human rights by a lock-change eviction to be compatible with the rule of law and not just her article eight right to respect for her home and family life."

Loss of contract

At the heart of the Court of Session case was Serco's procedures covering lock changes, which the company described as its "Move On Protocol".

The Home Office provides free, fully-furnished accommodation to asylum seekers while applications are being considered.

The contract is operated by private outsourcing firm Serco, which provides accommodation to about 5,000 people in Scotland, almost all of them in Glasgow.

When applications are refused, the asylum seekers no longer receive funding from the Home Office and Serco said it had picked up the bill, sometimes for months, without recompense.

From September, Serco will no longer provide the housing after losing the asylum accommodation contract for Scotland.