Updated 25 May 2021: Guardian: Home Office drops plan to evict thousands of migrants during pandemic
U-turn affects around 4,000 people refused asylum who were facing eviction with ‘immediate effect’
The Home Office has reversed its plan to evict thousands of migrants during the pandemic, the Guardian has learned.
The U-turn affects about 4,000 migrants who were facing eviction from Home Office accommodation.
Concerns were raised that the department’s plan to resume evictions of some refused asylum seekers with “immediate effect” could increase the spread of Covid and discriminate against people of colour who will be disproportionately affected by the policy.
A court order signed on Tuesday by government lawyers and their counterparts challenging the evictions policy confirmed that the home secretary, Priti Patel, had withdrawn it.
14 May 2021: Guardian: Judge criticises Priti Patel over policy for asylum seekers in pandemic
Court hears home secretary may have acted unlawfully in changing accommodation policy
A high court judge has criticised the British home secretary in court and said he found it “extremely troubling” after one of her officials admitted the Home Office might have acted unlawfully in changing its asylum accommodation policy during the pandemic.
Mr Justice Garnham raised concerns in court on Thursday that the home secretary, Priti Patel, could have been distributing public funds without legal authority.
He was hearing four linked cases from asylum seekers challenging the lawfulness of the home secretary’s policy to evict some refused asylum seekers during the pandemic.
During the hearing the Home Office was accused of unlawfully altering parts of the accommodation policy.
The judge agreed to adjourn Thursday’s hearing to give the Home Office time to identify the legal basis for its policy. He made an order halting the evictions until the case had concluded. It is scheduled to resume on 27 and 28 May.
An apology has been issued to the judge by the home secretary. Her counsel, Alan Payne QC, apologised to the judge for the situation the Home Office put the court in “as well as passing on the apology of my client” (Patel).[…]