ASYLUM seekers have won a legal battle against the Government after the High Court today found their ex-army barracks digs were "inadequate".

Conditions inside Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, were unlawful, a judge ruled today. 


The site has housed hundreds of asylum seekers since September, despite the Home Office being warned by health officials that it was unsuitable.

Around 200 of the residents caught Covid after an outbreak in January and seven have attempted suicide during their time at the former military base. 

A High Court judge found the "squalid" accommodation failed to meet a "minimum standard" as six asylum seekers won their legal bid.

Mr Justice Linden found the Home Office acted unlawfully by using the former military camp.

'SQUALID'

The judgment comes after a fire and unrest broke out in January at the former army camp in Folkestone, Kent.

The disturbances are understood to have sparked when some migrants were relocated after testing positive for Covid – leading to others demanding to be moved out too.

Today's legal findings could see claims for damages against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The six men, all said to be "survivors of torture and/or human trafficking", argued the Home Office is unlawfully accommodating people at the barracks.

They claimed conditions there pose "real and immediate risks to life and of ill-treatment".

At a hearing in April, the men's lawyers said housing asylum seekers at the"squalid" barracks was a breach of their human rights.


Ruling in favour of the men, Mr Justice Linden said: "Whether on the basis of the issues of Covid or fire safety taken in isolation…I do not accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.

"Insofar as the defendant considered that the accommodation was adequate for their needs, that view was irrational."

He added: "What is at issue here is accommodation in which they were supposed to live voluntarily pending a determination of their applications for asylum."

The judge said it was "questionable" if the barbed-wire ringed site was "adequate for their needs".

I do not accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.

Mr Justice Linden's judgment came after a two-day hearing in April.

Lawyers representing the asylum seekers have now called for the closure of the site, which still houses around 300 people.

A statementfrom the legal team said: "People seeking asylum are more vulnerable to physical and mental illness.

"They have the right to be treated with dignity and should not be accommodated in detention-style barracks."

Campaigners have now called for the barracks to be closed down.

Mariam Kemple Hardy, head of campaigns at Refugee Action, said: "This judgment vindicates all those who repeatedly told the Government that recklessly forcing hundreds of refugees into crowded camps during a killer pandemic was a gamble with people's lives.

"It's high time ministers found some compassion in how they treat people seeking asylum, many of whom have fled violence, persecution and torture.

"Napier Barracks and all other camp-style accommodation must be shut down."

In January, rioting broke out among around 100 migrants living at the camp and one of the buildings was torched.

The Home Secretary blasted the "appalling" destruction at the barracks, after flames engulfed one of the blocks.

Ms Patel blasted the incident as "not only appalling but deeply offensive" to taxpayers who are "providing this accommodation while asylum claims are being processed".

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