New call for public inquiry into “duty of care failures” by Mears Group concerning Glasgow’s asylum seekers.

30 July 2020


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First published 31 July 2020

1,400 organisations and private citizens from across civic society have now signed calls for a fully independent public inquiry into the deadly accommodation crisis affecting Glasgow’s asylum seekers since March 2020.

In March 2020, at the height of the Lockdown, hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, including victims of trafficking, women, unaccompanied young people, were uprooted from settled homes and forced into hotels that were emptied because of the Lockdown. People had their daily allowance of £5.35 removed.

On May 6, Adnan Walid Elbi, a suicidal 30 year old Syrian refugee, died in Room 50 of the Maclays Hotel, Glasgow. Documentation provided to us showed that he had been begging for help due to mental health conditions and not receiving it. Why was he not supported? Why was he left without money?

On June 26, 2020, Scottish MPs walked out of a meeting with John Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of the Mears Group, citing “trust issues”.

A few hours later on the same day, Police Scotland cited a major incident at the Park Inn Hotel, where 91 asylum seekers were accommodated. A Sudanese asylum seeker had been shot dead after stabbing six people in the Glasgow hotel. There was an immediate public outcry. How, people wanted to know, could a system that is supposed to protect the vulnerable have allowed a man with obvious mental health difficulties to be put in a situation where his problems were sure to escalate? Why were so many people, who had mainly suffered trauma as a result of their asylum journeys, forced into hotels where social distancing was impossible?

On June 27th 2020, we called for an independent public inquiry into the death of Adnan Walid Elbi and the Park Inn Tragedy.

Following the Park Inn incident, a further humanitarian crisis was created as Mears staff moved people into residential homes that were often dirty or uninhabitable with very few resources to sustain themselves, little or no food, no Wi-fi and little or no money, leaving charities and volunteers and organisations to step in to pick up the pieces of Mears contract.

We came across a Vietnamese asylum seeker who had no mobile phone, could not speak English, and had not seen an interpreter and had not communicated with anyone in months.

We are calling for a full and independent public inquiry into:

a) the circumstances whereby around 350 refugees and asylum seekers were uprooted repeatedly at very short notice from settled homes (without signing accommodation waivers) and forcibly transported  at the height of the Lockdown into emptied hotels without money or access to basic life essentials, left extremely vulnerable by the asylum system, and then moved back into residential homes, many of which were dirty and uninhabitable with little or no resources to sustain such a move. 

b) the circumstances which led to the death of Syrian refugee, Adnan Walid Elbi, (who died aged 30 in the Mclays Guest House on May 5 2020 after clear evidence known to the Home Office that he was suicidal).

c) the events that led to the Park Inn Hotel tragedy on Friday 26 June 2020 whereby one person was shot dead by police and six were injured.

As part of the investigation, the public have a right to know how much money was saved when the Home Office and Mears Group shifted hundreds of Glasgow asylum seekers into hotels emptied because of the Lockdown. We are calling for testimony to be taken from individuals prepared to speak out, and from organisations working on the ground into:

a) inhumane and degrading living conditions at the Tartan Lodge Hotel

b) the “pressure cooker” environment whereby so many people including survivors of torture and those with mental health problems were accommodated together with no ability to socially distance 

c) alleged threats, both veiled and explicit, made by Mears Group that asylum seekers could be deported if they complained about food or living conditions or their cases could be adversely affected if they communicated with “outside organisations” or the press (Park Inn, Hallmark, Mclays Guest House) and

d) the systematic isolation of highly vulnerable human beings when they are moved to new accommodation with little or no resources, knowledge, money, food, mobile phone or language communications, travel or support networks, leaving them vulnerable to further mental health problems, exploitation and often too traumatised or confused or simply unable to complain.

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#Asylum #Glasgow #homeoffice #Mears #ParkInn #AdnanWalidElbi #HotelDetention

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