Lord Rogers Roberts: The Napier Barracks scandal

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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC reported that the High Court had ruled that the Home Office’s decision to house cross-channel migrants in a “squalid” barracks in Folkestone was unlawful.

Six asylum seekers brought the case, claiming Napier Barracks was “unsafe” and dormitory use caused a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.

The ruling could see a damages claim against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The Home Office said use of the barracks would continue, and it was considering its “next steps”.

This report is so different from the assurances  by the government.

In answer to a question that I asked on January 29 Baroness Williams, home office minister in the Lords, justified the use of Napier Barracks – built 1794 – for Asylum Seekers. She wrote:

Following a review of available government property, the Ministry of Defence agreed to temporarily hand over two of their sites: the Penally Training Camp in Pembrokeshire and the Napier Barracks in Kent.

These sites were both suitable and immediately available to be used to house asylum seekers.

The accommodation, which until recently was used by the MOD is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements.

In response to the High Court decision a Government spokesperson said:

The Government takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously. We provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with safe, warm and secure accommodation, where they receive three meals a day, whilst their claims are being processed.

Either the government was misled, gullible or plain deceitful. Is this the least honourable government ever ?

* Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords

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5 Comments

  • Mark Seaman 17th Jun '21 - 5:43pm

    Either the government was misled, gullible or plain deceitful. Is this the least honourable government ever ? … Or the High Court Judge, on what would be a very high pay level has a distinctly unrealistic view on how most people live?

  • David Evershed 17th Jun '21 - 5:51pm

    Surely the biggest concern is that the accommodation was used for our armed forces personnel even though not considered fit enough for asylum seekers?

  • john oundle 17th Jun '21 - 9:18pm

    David Evershed

    Good enough for our armed forces but not good enough for migrants that have apparently been sleeping rough!

    The Hilton hotel in Bromsgrove was already full with migrants.

  • David Evershed 17th Jun ’21 – 5:51pm….Surely the biggest concern is that the accommodation was used for our armed forces personnel even though not considered fit enough for asylum seekers?……………

    Hardly! The barracks did not “meet acceptable standards of accommodation” when it was surveyed by planning and environmental experts seven years ago. It was destined for demolition and had not housed ‘our armed forces personnel’ for almost twenty years..

  • What is concerning is the lack of a benchmark.
    I remember doing a project in the late 1990’s for a major commercial property management company where they videotaped the pre-let inspection tour to provide a reference as to what state the property was in and confirm the presence of portable fixtures such as fire extinguishers.
    So it would seem to make sense that in preparing these barracks a similar video or at least photo’s will have been made to confirm the barracks (blocks and on-site facilities) had been brought up to a habitable status.

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