A legal battle against the eviction of asylum seekers in Glasgow got underway today as Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf claimed UK immigration policy needs an “injection of humanity”.

Homeless charity Shelter Scotland launched the case at the city’s sheriff court after Home Office contractor Serco issued lock change notices to tenants who have been refused asylum.

The charity presented papers on behalf of two asylum seekers from a group of six facing eviction.

While Serco - who no longer receive funding for tenants deemed failed asylum seekers - agreed to pause its programme of lock changes ahead of the court case, Mr Yousaf argued that this would only provide “temporary relief” for those at risk of losing their home.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already spoken out against the proposals, which could affect hundreds of asylum seekers, and Mr Yousaf said he was “very concerned” about Serco’s actions.

He said: “I welcome, of course, that Serco have announced a recent halting, but that is just a temporary relief undoubtedly for asylum seekers.

“I would echo the First Minister that some much-needed humanity has to be injected into the system.

“The Home Office immigration and asylum policy has rightly been criticised for being too cruel, for not seeing human beings, for not understanding the reasons why people leave their homes, whether it is war, poverty or conflict.

“There are some real big hurdles in the asylum process, but there is a complete and utter lack of humanity in the system from the UK Government, and that has to change.”

The lock changes will be halted for 21 days until the legal case calls again.

Speaking outside court, Shelter Scotland’s principal solicitor Fiona McPhail described Serco’s agreement as “a massive temporary victory” for the asylum seekers involved.

She added that the charity will try to argue that the case involves a human rights issue.

“These individuals are at risk of losing their home,” she said. “We’re arguing that Serco are acting on instructions from the Home Office and acting as a public authority and therefore have obligations under the Human Rights Act.

“There’s a requirement for there to be due process, there needs to be safeguards in place and it’s not compliant for there to merely be a lock-change at a certain stage.”

The legal action came as Serco CEO Rupert Soames claimed it was not true that 330 people would be served with lock change notices.

Speaking to Good Morning Scotland, he said: “That is the total number of people we are paying for whom Home Office support has ceased.

“About of third of them have had positive decisions and will be waiting to find alternative arrangements.”

He added that Serco has made an £80 million loss on the asylum accommodation contract over the past five years and said he welcomed the legal action as an opportunity to gain clarity from the courts, although the firm insisted its approach was “fully within the law”.