Asylum seekers win High Court challenge over ‘squalid’ Napier Barracks

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Six asylum seekers formerly housed at Napier Barracks have won a legal challenge against the Government after a High Court judge found their accommodation failed to meet a “minimum standard”.

The former army barracks in Kent have been used to house hundreds of asylum seekers since last September, despite the Home Office being warned by Public Health England that it was unsuitable.

“Real and immediate risks to life”

The men, all said to be “survivors of torture and/or human trafficking”, argued the Home Office is unlawfully accommodating people at the barracks and conditions there pose “real and immediate risks to life and of ill-treatment”.

During a two-day hearing in April, the men’s lawyers said that accommodating asylum seekers at the “squalid” barracks was a breach of their human rights and could amount to false imprisonment.

The ruling

On Thursday, Mr Justice Linden ruled in favour of the men and found the Home Office acted unlawfully when deciding the former military camp was appropriate.

He said:

Whether on the basis of the issues of Covid or fire safety taken in isolation, or looking at the cumulative effect of the decision making about, and the conditions in, the barracks, I do not accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.

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

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