A HOME OFFICE minister has defended a move to transfer 400 asylum seekers in Glasgow into hotels in the wake of the Park Inn knife attack saying it was for "safety reasons".

Chris Philp spoke as questions were raised in the House of Commons after it emerged that before attack on Friday, the Mears Group, which has the Home Office contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow had been heavily criticised for its decision to move around 400 in Glasgow. 

It claimed it was necessary because of problems securing lets during the lockdown, which campaigners say had put the physical and mental health of asylum seekers at risk.

Six people were stabbed,  including 42-year-old Constable David Whyte - and the attacker Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police in the incident at the Park Inn hotel in West George Street on Friday.

READ MORE: Call for independent inquiry into treatment of asylum seekers in Glasgow after Park Inn attack

Mr Philp said:  "Glasgow accommodates slightly over 5000 asylum seekers...and during the coronavirus epideemic over the last three months or so, of the service users, only two have tested positive for coronavirus. Both have fully recovered.  And amongst those people in hotels, there has not been a single confirmed case of coronavirus.

"So the steps being taken to safeguard the public and safeguard asylum seekers in particular have been successful."

She said the plan was to move them asylum seekers out of the hotels and into "more mainstream accommodation as quickly as possible".

He said that was "always the intention".

Mr Philp said the hotels the asylum seekers were move into were "good quality" and that Park Inn was three star Radisson accommodation adding: "It was a good hotel."

Mears, insisted on Wednesday, two days before the Park Inn attack it had kept people safe from Covid-19, claiming the “unprecedented arrangements” it made during the pandemic are “proving effective”.

Mears first came under scrutiny after the death of Adnan Olbeh, a Syrian asylum seeker who was found dead in a room in McLay's Hotel, Glasgow last month.

Mr Philp's comment came after Alison Thewliss, the SNP Glasgow Central MP called for an inquiry in the Commons in the wake of the attack about shifting asylum seekers into hotels without consultation.

She asked the minister if he would apologise for "a saga which has heaped trauma on vulnerable people in Glasgow and across the UK".

Protests were held on Glasgow’s streets during lockdown to protest at the treatment of asylum seekers in the hotels, left with no money and complains over the quality of food.

On Wednesday, last week, No Evictions Glasgow accused "far-right groups" of trying to "hi-jack" their peaceful demonstration.

A lack of social distancing, poor-quality food and no drinking water were reported by those staying at hotels after weekly financial support was removed.

On Wednesday, last week,  Mears, said it did not recognise some of the concerns and said there was a “disconnect” between the worries of some campaigners and what they were being told from those in hotels.

Mears, which was awarded the £1bn government contract in 2019,  admitted it was a “blanket decision” to move all asylum seekers out of their homes into hotels in March after lockdown was announced.

And after a media briefing on Wednesday,  a spokesperson for Mears stated that chief operating officer, John Taylor had been wrong to state that assessments were not carried out prior to moving asylum seekers into hotels.

Mears have referred all requests for comment to the Home Office.