Hostile environment

Napier Barracks must close after High Court ruling

Posted on 03 Jun 2021

  • Liberty responds to High Court ruling which finds Napier Barracks ‘inadequate’
  • Judge says asylum seekers were falsely imprisoned
  • Accommodation falls short of human dignity, Liberty says

Liberty has called on the Government to close Napier Barracks after the High Court ruled that conditions were “inadequate” and that COVID-19 outbreaks were inevitable.

The human rights group had intervened in the case, which was brought by six asylum seekers [1] and challenged the lawfulness of the Government’s provision by housing them at Napier Barracks in Kent.

In its submission to the court [2] Liberty said the accommodation failed to uphold human dignity, puts asylum seekers at risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, and failed to meet the needs of asylum seekers.

In the ruling handed down in the case today a High Court judge said that:

  • Accommodation at Napier Barracks was inadequate
  • A major outbreak of COVID-19 infections was inevitable
  • The Home Office decision to accommodate asylum seekers at Napier was irrational, as it could not meet their needs
  • Asylum seekers housed at Napier Barracks were falsely imprisoned

Liberty said this ruling is a clear indictment of the use of Napier Barracks to house asylum seekers and urged the Government to close it immediately.

The organisation reiterated the concerns it raised in its intervention in the case, which said housing people in Napier Barracks was incompatible with basic aspects of human dignity, because:

  • Overcrowding in barracks-style accommodation creates a significant risk of a COVID-19 outbreak
  • Basic sanitary and hygiene requirements not met – made worse by the lack of adequate toilets or wash facilities
  • Conditions at Napier have distressing associations for most, if not all, asylum seekers

Lara ten Caten, the Liberty lawyer working on the case, said:

“We should all have somewhere safe to shelter, where our dignity is respected and where our needs are met.

“Today’s judgment leaves no doubt that Napier Barracks falls far short of this, and the Government’s only response can be to close it down immediately.

“Accommodation at Napier Barracks is overcrowded and unhygienic, and the judge made clear that a coronavirus outbreak was inevitable.

“The Government was well aware of this, and yet it ignored public health advice and continued to house asylum seekers in unacceptable conditions – exposing them to great risk in the process.

“This a clear breach of people’s fundamental right to respect for human dignity, and it’s time for the Government to act.”


Contact the Liberty press office on 07973 831 128 or

Notes to Editors:

  1. Deighton Pierce Glynn are representing four of the claimants in the case, contact Emily Soothill at or 0117 244 3231. Matthew Gold are representing two claimants, contact Clare Jennings at or Olivia Halse at or 020 8445 9268.
  2. Liberty’s full written submission to the court is available on request.

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