DETAINEES at a Scots immigration detention centre have attacked the Home Office for making misleading claims about the on-going hunger strike at Dungavel.

The Home Office said that there was no hunger strike at the South Lanarkshire Detention Centre. However, one hunger striker who has been held at Dungavel for nearly a year told the Sunday Herald there were 25 detainees remaining on hunger strike after 11 days of protest over conditions. The protest started with around 70 detainees on hunger strike. He said some who had become involved had to get hospital treatment.

The Home Office, however, says set meals at Dungavel are at "standard levels", with a spokesman adding: "The number of detainees eating set meals at Dungavel remains at normal levels and for any who do miss formal meals, there is an opportunity to buy food from the shop. A handful of individuals who have been refusing set meals have each confirmed that they are eating in their rooms."

One of the detainees who is on hunger strike, however, said : "It is going on for 11 days now even though immigration have tried to deny it. They cannot deny it any more."

As well as conditions at the centre, others protestors object to the length of time they are being held without any idea of when they will be released.

New figures earlier this month showed that asylum seekers have been held at Dungavel for many months and in some cases more than a year.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers has recommended that immigration detention should be capped at 28 days. The panel said government should consider alternatives such as allowing detainees to live in the community.

Current Home Office policy puts the health of detainees at serious risk, said the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees. They also say there is considerable financial costs to the taxpayer because there is no time limit on detention.

The UK is the only nation in the European Union not to have an upper time limit on detention, it said.

In April, last year, Baroness Williams of Crosby failed with a House of Lords amendment of the Immigration Bill aimed at limiting immigration detention to a maximum of 60 days.

Some 41 detainees at the Dungavel have been there for more than three months. Thirty two detainees have been there for more than six months, while two have been there for more than a year.

One hunger striker posted his experience on a website devoted to those in detention. "This place is harder then prison, because in prison at least you know when you get out. But not in here! Some people have been detained for two to three years.For how long are they going to keep us in here? I want to know that!"

The hunger strike started at Harmondsworth detention centre near Heathrow airport and quickly spread to other centres, including Morton Hall in Lincolnshire, Colnbrook at West Drayton in Middlesex and Dover.

The Scottish Trade Union Congress and the Church of Scotland have requested permission for an urgent collective meeting with detainees and are awaiting any agreement from the Home Office.