UK hotel stripped of contract after asylum-seeker children disappear

Home Office to stop using complex where more than a hundred unaccompanied minors went missing

People in Brighton protest against unaccompanied asylum-seeker children being placed in hotels. EPA-EFE
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A British hotel at the centre of a scandal involving the disappearance of more than 130 unaccompanied child asylum seekers has been stripped of its government contract.

The hotel in Brighton was the focus of major protests after it was discovered that dozens of migrant children had gone missing, possibly abducted by criminal gangs.

Only last month, London's High Court heard at least 50 minors were still unaccounted for.

On Monday, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Bella Sankey, said the Home Office had informed the authority that its contract with the venue would end on Thursday.

The Home Office had been paying hotels to house asylum seekers.

Ms Sankey said the policy to house unaccompanied child asylum seekers in hotels had been “inhumane”.

“The Home Office contract with a #Hove hotel to accommodate unaccompanied children seeking asylum will end on Thursday,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This is a major milestone for our Council and for our City. Because @bhlabour and @BrightonHoveCC took action, this inhumane policy is ending. #Brighton.”

Authorities have faced criticism for failing to protect young asylum seekers, many of whom have disappeared, including a child aged 12.

Last month, Kent County Council took legal action against the Home Office over what it claims is the unlawful way in which the government manages the way unaccompanied refugee children are housed in Britain.

Stephanie Harrison KC, representing the council, had told the court “50 remain missing” from the hotel where they had been placed by the Home Office.

She quoted a witness saying the hotel poses “risks of trafficking to unaccompanied children” and is not “fit for purpose”.

The National has previously been told people-trafficking gangs have been using mobile phone trackers to find asylum-seeker children in British hotels and lure them away.

The Home Office has been using six hotels in the UK to house unaccompanied children who have been rescued from small boats in the English Channel.

The High Court in July said the “routine” housing of unaccompanied child asylum seekers in hotels was unlawful.

More than 5,400 have been housed in hotels since July 2021, a third of whom were under 16.

The Home Office says it does not comment on individual sites.

The move comes as the Home Office is removing asylum seekers from 50 hotels as part of a bid to reduce the cost of accommodating them.

Updated: November 27, 2023, 11:00 PM