Home Secretary Priti Patel has been called on to resign from the House of Commons for allegedly misleading MPs by claiming the Home Office followed public health advice when setting up the camp asylum at Napier Barracks in Kent.
Recently published correspondence shows that Public Health England has advised against housing asylum seekers in dormitories, but the Home Office has acted nonetheless.
At a home affairs select committee hearing earlier in the year, Patel told MPs that the Home Office had followed PHE’s advice throughout the year.
During a debate following an urgent matter in the House of Commons, opposition MPs called for Patel’s resignation for misleading MPs, as did one of his predecessors, Amber Rudd, when it was discovered that she had inadvertently misled the same committee.
Joanna Cherry, from the Scottish National Party, added: ‘Other MPs have asked the Minister whether the current Home Secretary misled the committee during oral testimony on February 24 this year.
“In response to these questions, the Minister continues to refer to a letter from Public Health England from June of this year, which speaks of the full cooperation of the Home Office since the spring of this year.
“Of course, when the Home Secretary testified on February 24, she was talking about what had happened before, not what had happened this spring, and the evidence presented to the High Court suggests that this that she said – that the Department had previously followed public health advice regarding Napier Barracks in all respects – was simply not factually correct and the High Court said that the evidence of public health had been ignored meant the Covid epidemic was inevitable.
“So why doesn’t the Home Secretary resign like Amber Rudd had the grace and decency to do?” “
Six asylum seekers last week won a court challenge against the government after a judge ruled that their accommodation in the barracks did not meet a minimum standard.
The court ruled that the barracks provided inadequate accommodation for asylum seekers and that the Home Minister’s process for selecting people to be housed at the site was flawed and illegal. He also found that the residents of the barracks were being illegally detained under alleged Covid rules.
Despite the ruling and a damning independent inspection earlier this year, and a significant Covid outbreak in which 200 people, half of the residents, contracted the virus, public health officials have warned that barracks remain a risk .
Kent public health officials told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee it was “difficult to envision” how the Napier Barracks near Folkestone was secured against Covid as ministers persist in housing vulnerable men in dormitories for up to 28 people.
Defending the actions of the Home Office, Immigration Minister Chris Philp cited correspondence from PHE which said he was having “an ongoing positive dialogue” and was working “in conjunction with colleagues from the Home Office. the Interior (HO) on a range of issues related to Covid-19 since spring 2020 “.
The same correspondence confirms that PHE has warned that Home Office dorms may not be Covid compliant.