8th May 2023. RAPAR PRESS RELEASE: ASYLUM HOTEL HUNGER STRIKER AND WIFE ENTER ‘NOT GUILTY’ PLEAS
o Home Office finally offers accommodation away from Serco sites of alleged abuse and assault but absence of translator creates further miscommunication.
o Family now in contingency hotel where they found insects crawling in one of the beds and a compulsory room search has already happened.
Tony Lloyd, the family’s new MP in Rochdale, says: “Hotels are simply not the right place for families with young children to be housed for months on end. Serco has questions to answer about the basic quality of accommodation, their stewardship of the Home Office contract and dealing with legitimate complaints…” (see full quote below)
The Mum and Dad from Shay’s Family Campaign appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 27th April 2023. They were charged with a criminal offence and have entered ‘Not Guilty’ pleas. The two day hearing is scheduled for 11th and 12th December 2023 with a case management hearing set for 12th July this year.
It is alleged that, contrary to section 119 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 they did cause without reasonable excuse on NHS premises a nuisance / disturbance [between] … 11th and 22nd November 2022 at Stockport while on National Health Service premises, namely Stepping Hill Hospital , other than for the purpose of obtaining medical advice, treatment or care for yourself[ves], caused, without reasonable excuse a nuisance or disturbance to an National Health Service staff member who was working there or was otherwise there in connection with work and refused without reasonable excuse to leave the premises when asked to do so by a National Health Service staff member.
It was day 20 of Shay’s hunger strike, November 22nd 2022, when he and his wife were discharged as medically fit, immediately arrested and then, after spending six hours in separate cells at Pendleton Police station in Salford, were charged as above.
Following their release on bail, a further six months of legal petitioning via pre-action protocols, public demonstrations and press coverage has highlighted the circumstances of their situation. During this time Mum, Dad and Child have been sheltered in the Stockport community and the Child has continued uninterrupted school attendance.
After emphatic and consistent assertion that they should not be returned to a site of alleged abuse or assault - namely Serco run contingency accommodation - the Home Office, under threat of Judicial Review, finally offered Shay’s family self-contained accommodation on 12th April 2023. This meant that they would not be subject to surveillance by Serco, or unable to control who came into their living space at any time, or what or when they ate. This offer was made on the same day that the Manchester Evening News reported that “GMP [have] confirmed an investigation into a suspected assault on Shay at the hotel where they lived is ongoing, but no arrests have been made.” This information directly contradicts what Stepping Hill Hospital wrote to mum and dad five months previously, on 18th November 2022: “We have been informed that Serco have investigated your concerns, that investigation has been shared with GMP, and GMP have determined that it is not in the public interest for them to investigate.”
However, in the absence of translators on 12th April, miscommunication led the family to believe they were being put into a contingency hotel again and they refused the offer. Despite several attempts to explain that their refusal was a result of miscommunication, no further offer of self-contained accommodation has been forthcoming. Last Friday, in an effort to break through the bureaucracy, the family moved into a Serco run hotel in Rochdale which they describe as having “the same unbearable smell”. Film of insects crawling in their bed in the middle of the night and of their
room being searched by hotel staff has been shared with RAPAR.
Now they are in Rochdale, the family’s MP is Tony Lloyd who says: “Hotels are simply not the right place for families with young children to be housed for months on end. Serco has questions to answer about the basic quality of accommodation, their stewardship of the Home Office contract and dealing with legitimate complaints. Tory Home Office Ministers now accept hotels are not the right place to accommodate asylum seekers but they must raise their game and deliver a much quicker resolution for asylum claims. Hotels are not the answer, not for asylum seekers, not for the community and not for the taxpayer."
RAPAR’s findings about conditions in hotels housing people seeking asylum date back to the summer of 2022. They have recently been further validated by Refugee Action and amplified by Migrant Voice.
Even more recently, on 27th April, Open Democracy carried a report about the Government’s intention to legalise hazardous accommodation by relaxing licensing rules around HMOs for people fleeing danger and in this way “speed up the process of landlords offering up asylum accommodation, without having to wait for an inspection to be completed. It will also make it easier for them to claim public cash for doing so.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
Rhetta Moran 07776264646
Kath Grant 07865713474