A LEADING Glasgow lawyer has said he is prepared to fight each of the 300 evictions of asylum seekers proposed by the Home Office accommodation contractor Serco.

Serco announced plans to evict the refused asylum seekers – whose accommodation is no longer being funded by the Home Office – last July but put them on hold following legal challenges, widespread protests and political condemnation.

However, last Wednesday the company – which will have its contract terminated and passed to Mears Group in September – announced it would restart the process. From tomorrow it will issue up to 30 notices a week warning people that they will be evicted by having the locks changed on their properties. It follows a ruling in May by Lord Tyre that it would not be acting illegal to do so, after Govan Law Centre challenged the decision at the Court of Session. Charities, who were not told of the timing of the announcement, claimed it could lead to hundreds of people being left destitute and street homeless. A protest, attended by hundreds of people, was held in the city centre yesterday.

READ MORE: Hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow face eviction as Serco plans lock changes

Mike Dailly, solicitor advocate at Govan Law Centre, who took the case to the Court of Session and is now appealing it, said he still believed the lock changes – which run contrary to Scottish Housing law – were not legal. He said the public law body would be prepared to apply for legal aid secure interim indicts from the courts to prevent all 300 evictions.

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He told the Sunday National: “Govan Law Centre stands ready to make applications for interim interdict for anyone subject to a lock-change eviction in Glasgow as we believe these are unlawful, and pending our client’s appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session, Scots law is unsettled here.”

He also called on the Scottish Legal Aid Board to approve legal aid for Shakar Ali’s Court of Session appeal, which he said would allow the legal arguments to be resolved. If it could not be fast tracked he claimed “that will mean law centres in Glasgow will have to make 300 applications to Glasgow Sheriff Court for civil legal aid for everyone subject to a lock-change eviction,” he added.

A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said the application was being considered “as a matter of priority”.

READ MORE: Serco prepares to evict hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, said the charity will fight the unjust process all the way. “Whatever it takes to resist this hostile and racist environment is to be welcomed,” she added. “We did some research and out of 1600 people who were destitute, 92% were working to address their legal position. Very few were appeal rights exhausted. Yet Serco is telling them that they should simply return home. It has no right to say that as their landlord.”

She claimed to be particularly concerned by Serco’s decision to hand deliver lock change letters, claiming that research had previously shown that where landlord hand delivered eviction letters, the dating – and the time allowed for tenants to vacate – was subject to abuse. “This is important, it could be an abuse of vulnerable people’s human rights,” she added. She also claimed that while it was Home Office policy to make people destitute, Glasgow City Council had a legal duty to help those who were vulnerable, which she said included single men.

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A spokesman for Glasgow City Council, said: “Legally, the council is extremely limited in the direct support it is permitted to provide. However, we work closely with partners across all sectors to ensure that, where the law allows, the city responds to need.”

Charities have been urged to refer “anyone with vulnerabilities” to the council, he added.

Council leader Susan Aitken has also written to Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes claiming that a failure to put a stop to the lock-change policy would put Glasgow’s participation in the Home Office dispersal scheme in jeopardy. Communities Minister Aileen Campbell has also written calling on the Home Office to live up to its responsibilities and find a long-term solution for asylum seekers that will not leave them destitute and homeless. Last Friday Noakes had not replied to either. Police Scotland has ruled out involvement as it is “a civil matter” raising questions about how the process could work in practice without a court order.

Earlier in the week Julia Rogers, Serco’s managing director of immigration, said: “We very much regret the distress this will cause, but hope that it will be understood that we cannot be expected to provide free housing indefinitely to hundreds of people who have been unsuccessful in their asylum claims and most of whom have no legal right to remain in the UK.”

“We call on all parties to work with us constructively to help people navigate their way through to a new future beyond the asylum system, and we will be making funds available to charities to support this work.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Office takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live extremely seriously. We have and will continue to work closely with local authorities and partners to ensure that those who have no right to be in the UK leave their accommodation in a safe and secure way.”