Home Office Minister Chris Philp Claims NO Covid 19 Cases

30 June 2020

In his response  , on Monday 29 June 2020, to an urgent question from Alison Thewliss MP about support for asylum seekers, Chris Philp MP, Home Office Minister said:

“Among those people accommodated in hotels there has not been a single confirmed case of coronavirus and therefore the steps taken to to safeguard the public and safeguard the asylum seekers in particular, have been successful.”

Mr Philp failed to mention that noone had actually been tested. Nor did he acknowledge that asylum seekers in the hotels had complained of being denied medical attention and being confined to their rooms. He also failed to acknowledge that the asylum seeker who was reported to be suffering mental health problems and ignored, and then attacked six people including a police officer in the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow was reported to be isolating from suspected Covid 19 and had been confined for 20 days in the hotels.   

His argument seems to be ” it turned out good so we must have done something right”.

So its only fair that the same test of logic should be applied to the death of Syrian refugee, Adnan Elbi, last month. A person died in a hotel arranged by Mears so they must have done something horribly wrong. Adnan told the Home Office – in writing through his lawyer – that he was suicidal in the Mclays Guest House. Five days later he was found dead and alone in his hotel room. 

Mr Philp’s logic also makes clear that when an asylum seeker nearly kills six people in the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow, something once again has gone horribly wrong. 

In the ensuing press coverage, neither the Home Office or Mears put up anyone for media interviews to answer the concerns that had been circulating for months about the vulnerability of the asylum seekers under their care, opting instead on cut and pasted standard responses to press enquiries.

Six Scottish MPs turned down a meeting with John Taylor of Mears last Friday because of “trust issues”. Mears were accused of lying in the House of Commons yesterday over vulnerability tests.

In March 2020, the Mears Group forcibly moved 370 asylum seekers at initial accommodation stage from where they were settled in homes. They were bundled into vans 4 or 5 at a time, with less than an hour’s notice, at a time when non essential travel, evictions and hotel stays were forbidden and millions were told to “stay home, stay safe”.

Less than a month after moving asylum seekers from settled homes into hotels, 30 year old Adnan died alone in his room at the McLays Guest House. We have documented evidence that he had expressed suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide after being forcibly moved from his home at 30 St Andrews Square into the guest house. 

Five days before he died, the Home Office asked Adnan’s lawyer for a statement about his suicidal intentions but neither the Home Office nor Mears took ANY action to provide support or prevent his death.

Six weeks later, in the Park Inn Hotel, six people were severely injured in a knife attack by a Sudanese asylum seeker, having been placed there by Mears alongside 100 other people, including trafficked women, unaccompanied asylum seeker children and people with mental health trauma left vulnerable.

What is the common denominator in all of these incidents?

Hotels used as long term accommodation for vulnerable people and the failure of the Home Office and Mears Group to fulfil their basic duty of care towards hundreds of vulnerable people. 

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