The CEO of the charter company responsible for supplying the controversial barge being used to house asylum seekers has hit back at claims the vessel is a "floating prison".

Speaking exclusively to The Herald from on board the Bibby Stockholm on Portland, Joyce Landry said fears about the conditions on board have been caused by a lack of accurate information.

She also corrected claims made this week that two further vessels had been turned away from ports in Liverpool and Edinburgh, calling them "completely false".

On Wednesday police were forced to separate rival groups of activists on Portland, a small island in Dorset, who had turned out to protest the arrival of the vessel.

The UK government has charted the barge to hold up to 500 asylum seekers in a bid to alleviate the cost of and pressures on hotel accommodation.

While protestor groups are fighting different issues - asylum seekers in the community versus poor treatment of asylum seekers - they are united in one thing: repelling the barge.

Refugee rights groups have condemned the vessel's use, saying conditions on board are inhumane and amount to floating detention.

Ms Landry, the co-founder of Landry & Kling, described the Bibby Stockholm as "actually quite lovely" and said she will be "proud" to open the vessel to the UK media on Friday.

Tours of the barge were not set to go ahead for another week but Ms Landry said she is keen to press ahead with viewings in order to "dispel some of these notions".

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She added: "And the scepticism. It's very insular thinking.

"What we'd like to do is help to be on the transformational side of working with asylum seeking people instead of have the same old conversation about the negativity because these are good people just trying to find a good life.

"We should treat them with dignity. And I think that we can."

Dorset Council has been given funding by the Home Office to set up recreational and sports activities both on board and off, as well as provide English lessons.

Mention has been made of vessels being used as asylum accommodation in Europe but this method has already been used in the UK.

Landry & Kling also supplied two cruise ships used by the Scottish Government to house Ukrainian refugees in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Herald was the only publication to gain access the MS Victoria at Leith - the Scottish Government had a strict no-press policy - and spoke to Ukrainian refugees who had lived on both the Victoria and the MS Ambition in Glasgow.

Ms Landry, usually resident in Miami, lived on board the MS Victoria during the ship's time in Leith.

Her experience there led her to set up the charity Mission of Innocents, which has two Scottish projects and will now work globally to support displaced children.

Scottish refugee charities involved on the MS Victoria and MS Ambition praised the cruise ship accommodation because it allowed multiple agencies - education, the DWP, the NHS, housing and third sector groups - to work together efficiently.

She said the concerns around the ship at Portland are borne from a lack of information and she is keen to be as transparent as possible with the Bibby Stockholm after her experience with the Scottish Government's reluctance to open the Ukrainian cruise ships to outside scrutiny.

Ms Landry has moved from the US to make a base in the UK while her company works with the UK government.

Of the Scottish cruise ships, she said: "I wish that this story of what was created was allowed to be told. It's very frustrating, because this is this is my business and my life.

READ MORE: Love and loss on board the MS Ambition in Glasgow

"And we want to be able to tell other people in other parts of the world that using a vessel for this purpose is a really an intelligent thing to do."

Local residents have been at the dock in Portland protesting the arrival of the ship.

No to the Barge claim women and children will be placed in danger by the presence of asylum seekers; supporters of Stand Up to Racism claim Tory ministers and the far right are causing hostility.

Ms Landry said her staff had been watching the protests and said each has been "equally weighted".

She said: "There will be people with placards that are anti-immigration, and there are people with placards that are anti-racism, and the two of those factions are fighting with each other.

"So some people think we're not treating people well enough. And other people think we're treating them too well."

Ms Landry added that she was confident people can be persuaded of the benefits of using floating accommodation.

She said: "So the more we can engage with the community the better off we're going to be.

"But this is probably the best of a lot of solutions that people have mentioned. And, you know, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

"So you could stand there and just argue about it and say it's not right but let's try it, see if we can make it work.

"If we're involved, you can bet that we're going to do our utmost to make this an experience that is going to be very successful.

"And we will change people's minds."

The Bibby Stockholm has a mixed history, having been used in 2005 to house asylum seekers in the Netherlands where undercover reporting made claims of abuse cases on board, suicide attempts and scabies outbreaks.

It was also berthed at Lerwick and used as accommodation for construction workers at the Shetland Gas Plant and at Piteå, Sweden, during the construction of Markbygden Wind Farm.

The barge arrives in Portland against a backdrop of heated political rhetoric against asylum seekers. This week the Illegal Migration Bill was passed, which allows for people who arrive in Britain on small boats to be detained and deported to Rwanda.

Ms Landry, who showed The Herald a cabin over video call, described the rooms as "significantly sized" and said every one on the three-storey vessel has a window.

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She said: "We think that we're providing something that's really actually better than a lot of the conditions that people are in right now.

"So I think this will, in the end, turn out to be a role model in how to really do this."

Ms Landry, who set up Landry & Kling in New York in 1982, further said reports of ships being turned away at Edinburgh and Liverpool were "false".

She said discussions had been underway with cruise lines and local councils in Birkenhead and Liverpool but talks had been in the very early stages.

She added: "We were disappointed particularly in Birkenhead and Liverpool, because we thought we had the perfect situation there.

"In the end, it has to work for everybody. The ship has to fit the dock. The dock has to have availability for 18 months or longer.

"And the local community has to be engaged in supporting the local council. And if any one of those three areas don't come in together in harmony then we can't move forward."

Ms Landry also countered reports that protesters had been successful in turning the Bibby Stockholm away from Portland and forcing it to be diverted to Falmouth.

She said that, in fact, the vessel had always been scheduled to go to Falmouth to dry dock for "painting and freshening up".

"That a completely made up story," she said.

"It did exactly what it was supposed to do, exactly the way it was supposed to happen. The only delay we had is totally weather related - we have to go with what the weather gods have given us."

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Ms Landry said she was keen to correct the assumptions being made about the vessel, saying Landry & Kling looks for "elegant solutions" to issues, becoming "emotionally invested" in the projects they work on.

She said: "A love of what we do imbues our company with a certain sense of... I like to call it magic.

"Maybe it's because we're also women-owned and, for the most part run by women, we look at things a little bit differently, we want to be fulfilled in a different way.

"That's not just about doing business but when you're involved with refugees, migration, the human condition - it's important that everyone is fully invested in doing that well."