MPs to look into allegations asylum seekers in Glasgow locked out of their homes

Keith Vaz: 'Not acceptable'. Picture: PA
Keith Vaz: 'Not acceptable'. Picture: PA
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The chair of the home affairs select committee is to look into allegations that a firm responsible for managing asylum seeker accommodation in Glasgow is locking people out their homes, in breach of eviction guidelines.

Leaked emails from the Orchard & Shipman firm suggest the company informed staff to change locks on asylum seekers’ homes as soon as possible once they have been refused leave to stay in the UK.

The correspondence, obtained by BBC Scotland, stated that notice had been served to people inhabiting ten properties. It added that if the occupants did not move, workers should “perform a lock change at the first available opportunity,” stating this should be an “absolute priority.”

Under guidelines issued to Orchard & Shipman by Serco, which subcontracts the company, so-called ‘overstayers’ should be given 21 days to find alternative homes.

Shafiq Mohammed, a former Orchard & Shipman employee, told the BBC that staff would sometimes “look at a time to catch them when they’re out to just change the locks. It’s as simple and brutal as that.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs committee, said leaving people homeless “was just not acceptable” and added that he would be asking questions of Orchard & Shipman.

The company have denied the allegations, claiming none of the tenants in the properties listed in the emails had been evicted in such a way.

Shane Spiers, its chief executive, said the firm was “confident” it was acting legally and meeting contractual obligations.