16 February 2021 Guardian: Public Health England warned against using Napier facility before outbreak of coronavirus, court hears
The Home Office ignored advice from Public Health England that housing asylum seekers in dormitories in army barracks was inappropriate in a pandemic, months before an outbreak of 120 Covid cases.
In a high court hearing on Tuesday – brought by six asylum seekers who claim that conditions at the barracks are inhumane – the Home Office conceded that it was arguable that the use of Napier barracks to house the group was unlawful and in breach of human rights.
Counsel for the Home Office admitted to failings and confirmed that, following the launching of several legal actions, sweeping changes to Napier barracks in Folkestone, which has been used to accommodate hundreds of asylum seekers, have been made.
This case was brought by Deighton Pierce Glynn: 16 FEB HOME SECRETARY CONCEDES THAT IT IS ARGUABLE THAT NAPIER BARRACKS ARE INADEQUATE AND IN BREACH OF HUMAN RIGHTS. HIGH COURT GRANTS PERMISSION TO PROCEED
Sue Willman, solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn, the firm representing four of the Claimants said:
“The Home Secretary has today conceded that the arguments we made on behalf of asylum seekers held in Napier Barracks were arguable and that the case should go ahead to a full trial. This is very welcome news. Our clients were subjected to demeaning conditions in Napier Barracks for over four months before the Home Office was ordered by the Court to move them to alternative adequate accommodation. It is due to the determined work of NGOs and campaigners including Care4Calais, Humans For Rights Network, Kent Refugee Action Network, Samphire Project and the Helen Bamber Foundation that this has been brought this to light. Refugees arriving in the UK, often after experiencing torture and trafficking, have the right to be provided with basic humane accommodation. Disused military barracks at Napier and Penally are far from that and now need to be closed.”
A final hearing will take place in the week commencing 12 April 2021.
Set that against this letter sent out on 9 February 2021 to local residents by Home Office and Folkestone & Hythe District Council: