Injured asylum seeker loses bid for UK judicial review of hotel stabbing spree

Police shot dead Badreddin Abadlla Adam after he stabbed six people

Britain's High Court has rejected a claim by an injured asylum seeker who was seeking an inquiry into a hotel stabbing attack. Alamy
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The UK's high court has rejected a bid by an asylum seeker to force the Home Office to hold a judicial review into an incident at a hotel in which he and five other people, including a police officer and a hotel receptionist, were stabbed.

Fellow asylum seeker Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police on June 26, 2020, after he stabbed six people in a hotel in Glasgow being used to house asylum seekers.

The claimant, who was not named, lost his spleen and says he suffers continuing psychological consequences.

He wanted an inquiry into why Adam, who had made repeated threats that he was going to stab people, did not undergo a vulnerability and mental health assessment before he was placed in the hotel.

But London's High Court has rejected his appeal due to the police and other agencies having conducted their own investigations.

“The claimant suffered serious injuries as a result of the criminal violence of Adam, who was shot dead by police,” Mr Justice Johnson said.

“There has been an adequate criminal investigation into that criminal offence. The claimant has not demonstrated that the defendant was arguably in breach of the obligation under section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

“The claimant has not therefore demonstrated that the defendant is under a legal obligation to commission an independent investigation into the circumstances which resulted in Adam's attack.

“In any event, the appropriate mechanism of investigation in such a case (where a fatality has resulted) is a coroner's inquest, or, in Scotland, an investigation by the SFIU leading, potentially, to a Fatal Accidents Inquiry.

“Such an investigation is being undertaken and is (as is required by the Convention) entirely independent of the defendant. There is no legal obligation on the part of the defendant to initiate a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 or any other form of investigation. The claim is therefore dismissed.”

The court heard that a report following the attack by Heather Laing, the Head of Asylum Operations for UK Visas and Immigration, identified failings in the system of housing asylum seekers in hotels, and it revealed all of Scotland's 5,000 asylum seekers had been placed in Glasgow but there was a lack of accommodation.

She noted the number of times — more than 70 — Adam had been in contact with Mears, the firm the Home Office uses in Scotland to deal with asylum seekers, and the charity Migrant Help, and that this “should have acted as a warning”.

“She identified that there was an impact on the mental well-being of service users as a result of the combination of previous trauma, being accommodated long term in hotels, and the Covid-19 restrictions, although it was difficult to say whether this was more significant than the impact on the general population,” Mr Justice Johnson said.

Migrants walk up the beach in Dungeness, on the south-east coast of England, after being picked up at sea by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution while attempting to cross the English Channel, in June. AFP

“Hotel staff had become part of the system supporting asylum seekers, but without experience or training that would enable them to identify if a service user's mental health was deteriorating.

“Ms Laing made a number of detailed recommendations. These included increasing the areas in Scotland in which asylum seekers can be accommodated and reviewing the training that is provided to the staff of service providers.

“She considered that each of Adam's enquiries was dealt with appropriately, but that there was no system in place to respond to the nature and frequency of Adam's contact. She suggested that consideration might be given to the development of a system that allows for a person-centric view of interactions across the system and identifies patterns of conduct that may be indicative of behaviours that may be cause for concern.”

The court heard that staff at Mears, and staff at the hotels, were not medically trained and, in particular, had no mental health training.

The judge said the hotel had received a number of complaints from the asylum seekers about the quality of the food, and that during Ramadan the hotel kitchen was shut by sunset and only cold food was available.

“By 24 June 2020 it was being reported that tensions were beginning to emerge, mainly due to the length of time that service users had remained in a hotel, but these were being addressed,” he said.

Residents were becoming increasingly agitated and sometimes aggressive with each other, and they “felt like prisoners who were not being listened to”.

Adam, from Sudan citizen, had travelled to Libya in 2017 and claimed asylum in Germany before continuing to the UK. He was sent to Scotland in April 2020.

Demonstrators at a removal centre at Gatwick protest against plans to send migrants to Rwanda.

“There is no clear evidence that individualised vulnerability assessments were being carried out at the point at which service users were moved to hotels. (Mears' chief operating officer at one point said that a blanket decision had been made to move people to hotels without assessments, but this statement was later retracted),” the judge said.

“There may be good reason to carry out an investigation into the events that resulted in the claimant's injuries. There is evidence that the accommodation of asylum seekers by the defendant has given rise to consequences which were not fully foreseen.

“There is also evidence that the restrictions on freedom of movement that were introduced as a result of the Covid-19 impact may have had unforeseen impacts on asylum seekers. A broader independent investigation might well identify further lessons to be learned so as to enable systemic improvement.

“The only basis on which it is said that an investigation is required is because the defendant is arguably in breach of the systems obligation and/or the operational obligation. It has not been shown that the defendant is arguably in breach of either of those obligations. It follows that this claim will be dismissed.”

Updated: July 21, 2022, 12:13 PM
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