Administrative Court allows claim challenging asylum accommodation at Napier Barracks

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Mr Justice Linden (Linden J) has today handed down judgment in R (NB and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 1489 (Admin), a claim by six asylum seekers challenging the lawfulness of the provision of asylum accommodation at Napier barracks in Kent. Linden J allowed the claim. Linden J found that the Home Secretary’s decision to use Napier Barracks to accommodate destitute asylum-seekers was unlawful and irrational. The judge found the accommodation to be in a “detention-like setting” that was “reminiscent of a detention centre”; that asylum-seekers were placed in overcrowded dormitories contrary to the advice of Public Health England on reducing the risk of Covid-19; and that the environment exposed the claimants to an unacceptable fire risk, serious fire safety issues having been recorded by Crown Premises Fire Safety Inspectorate. Linden J found, noting that the claimants were asylum-seekers who were not detained and who had been victims of trafficking and/or torture prior to their arrival in the UK, that that such accommodation failed to ensure a standard of living that was adequate for the claimants, bearing in mind the likely effect of the arrangements on the mental health of the claimants. The judge concluded that, insofar as the Home Secretary considered that the accommodation was adequate for the claimants’ needs, that view was irrational. Linden J also upheld the claimants’ complaint that the system in place for assessing the suitability of asylum seekers to be accommodated at Napier barracks was unlawful, and found that the system fell below the “fairly low standard required by application of the Tameside principle” (per Secretary of State for Education & Science v Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council [1977] AC 1014). Admas Habteslasie acted for the First Intervener, Liberty.

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