AN independent inquiry has found that a fatal lockdown hotel stabbing attack "could have been avoided" by for the actions of an asylum system "motivated by commercial profit".

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, who was commissioned to conduct the investigation by the campaign group Refugees for Justice, was unsparing in her criticism of the Home Office and its contractor Mears Group.

Making a raft of recommendations to improve conditions for people seeking asylum in the UK, Baroness Kennedy said a formal public inquiry should now be held to uncover the full details of why vulnerable men, women and children were moved from their homes into hotels at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Live in Park Inn Hotel was like 'living in a prison'

Baroness Kennedy said: "These tragic events hit the headlines but they are not the only tragedies arising out of this move.

"Through the course of the inquiry we heard a multitude of stories of loss and despair.

"We still don't know why the moves happened. Who made the decision? What was the rationale for doing so?

"I'm afraid the answer is that it was a short sighted cost reduction exercise that flew in the face of any public health or common sense response.

"And we believe that this loss of life could have been avoided.
The Herald:

"The two systems of asylum - asylum determination and asylum support - are in a total shambles. This is a government that has completely lost control of the processes.

"It is a system profiting from pain."

In June 2020, Sudanese man Badreddin Abadlla Adam, who was living in the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow city centre, stabbed six people before being shot dead by police.

A leaked Home Office report into the incident showed that Mr Adam had contacted the authorities for help with his health and accommodation more than 70 times but his pleas had gone unheeded.

Others living in the Park Inn had also raised concerns about his mental health.

Detailing how the hotel had been turned into a "bloodbath" with the reception area left "running with blood", Baroness Kennedy said the mental health of those seeking asylum had been serious affected by the incident.

The report, launched at Glasgow's Merchant's House near to the Park Inn Hotel, lists an array of failures of the Home Office and its contractors as well as the reluctance of asylum seekers to speak out as they believe this may damage their claims.
The Herald:

Among the recommendations of the inquiry is the call for Mears to set up a £5 million per year fund to pay for mental health and trauma support for asylum seekers, which Baroness Kennedy said would be affordable given the profits made from the £1 billion government contract.

Asked by The Herald if Mears would set up such a fund, a spokesman did not answer the question.

He did, however, say that the company had followed "Scottish Government guidance" in moving asylum seekers to hotels and that welfare supports and "three nutritious meals a day" had been provided.

Other recommendations include requiring all staff to wear name badges to ensure residents know who they are, and for 24 hours notice to be given before staff enter homes.

READ MORE: Manston's cruelty shows the UK's failure on asylum

The inquiry heard how people seeking asylum were welcomed to the city by neighbours. Baroness Kennedy said: "Society and community is not dead and we heard countless stories of day to day kindness carried out by the people of Glasgow and people across Scotland."

The KC emphasised that numbers of asylum seekers have, contrary to Home Office lines, fallen in the past 20 years and the burden on the system comes from cuts to civil servant numbers.

She added:  "The commercial sector is profiting from pain and is providing a means by which the United Kingdom government is able to muddy the waters about who has ultimate responsibility and where the human rights obligations actually lie."

Representatives of Refugees for Justice, who commissioned the report aft the UK Government declined to launch a public inquiry, said in a statement: "We see this report not as an end, but the beginning of taking concrete steps towards meaningful and lasting change.

"A statutory inquiry is the only way for the Home Office and its contractors to be held accountable for a dysfunctional and inhumane asylum system."

The Herald:

A Home Office spokesperson said the incident had been "truly horrific".

He added: "We have since made significant changes to keep asylum seekers safe, including how we, our contractors and charities identify vulnerable individuals and ensure they are fully supported.

"We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases but despite this we continue to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, secure and leaves no one destitute."

In the longer term, the report recommends the end of hotel accommodation for people seeking asylum and the expansion of specialist NHS services to help these new residents to the UK.

The ban on asylum seekers being able to work must be lifted, it adds.

Mears said hotel use in Glasgow had been greatly reduced but hotel accommodation is needed due to a lack of suitable community accommodation.

The spokesman said: "We are working with local authorities and others to procure accommodation as quickly as possible."