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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.

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