EXPECTANT mothers and trafficking victims were knowingly put into asylum seeker hotels where one man died, a Home Office contractor has admitted.

But chief operating officer John Taylor says Mears Group wouldn't do things differently.

In a press conference today, the company defended its record in Glasgow, where hundreds of people were moved out of private accommodation and placed in hotels with shared facilities during the pandemic in a move Mears says was designed to protect them.

The company says it "doesn't recognise" the complaints shared by residents through campaign groups over the provision and quality of food and access to medical care, and admitted asking reporters and advocacy groups to identify complainants it admits are "vulnerable" so it could approach them directly.

And it says the recent protests in the city over the treatment of asylum seekers have been based on a misunderstanding of the circumstances.

However, Taylor admitted no vulnerability assessments had been carried out on any individuals before they were moved from their homes at the outset of lockdown.

This includes survivors of human trafficking, pregnant women and families with children.

They have since been moved back out of the hotels and into residences supplied by Mears and Taylor said the initial shift was arranged in this way because "we had about a week to make the decision".

Taylor was unable to state how long such individuals had been placed in the shared accommodation.

And he said that though single women and initially been placed alongside men with no additional safeguarding, they had since been separated from the men and put together in two floors of the same facility.

Taylor stated that "anyone living in a hotel for three months is going to find that challenging", but said he did not believe the move had contributed to the death of Syrian Adnan Olbeh in early May.

He died at McLay's Hotel and the cause of death has not yet been determined.

Friends there said he had sought mental health help but been unable to access the support he needed, and had been self-medicating with street valium, a suggestion which has upset his remaining family overseas.

Taylor said Mears had tried to assist Olbeh in relation to "lifestyle choices" prior to the move, and that further help was given afterwards.

He said the 30-year-old "would have had access to the welfare teams" and there was no evidence that "being in a hotel exacerbated the situation any further". He also claimed that vulnerability assesments would not have flagged him.

Taylor said other residents had been given leaflets about mental health support after Olbeh's death, adding: "Mental health services within Glasgow are very overstretched at the moment."

Mears has restated its commitment to avoiding the lockdown evictions that made its predecessor Serco notorious once asylum seekers go back into flats.

Taylor commented: "In hindsight, we made the decision for the best of reasons.

"I would still make that decision again, that we were better able to look after our initial accommodation group of people in six hotels than in hundreds of properties."