Help close Napier Barracks

by Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

Help close Napier Barracks

by Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer
Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer
Case Owner
I am a local resident and a lead volunteer helping asylum seekers who are housed at Napier Barracks alongside a number of voluntary organisations.
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Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer
Case Owner
I am a local resident and a lead volunteer helping asylum seekers who are housed at Napier Barracks alongside a number of voluntary organisations.
Pledge now

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Latest: June 27, 2022

UPDATE: Success in the High Court!

I am thrilled to report that the High Court ruled on Friday 24 June 2022 that the Home Secretary had broken equalities law in her decision to grant herself planning permission to use Napier Barracks …

Read more

The Home Secretary has just decided, without consultation, to continue using Napier Barracks as asylum accommodation until 2025. Planning permission was due to expire on 21 September 2021. That should have been the end of the use of these ageing barracks as divisive and demeaning accommodation for asylum seekers.  But Priti Patel has just granted herself her own planning permission to reverse all that.

The many problems at Napier Barracks are well documented. Government inspectors, parliamentarians, health experts and many others have all agreed that housing asylum seekers in this way has been hugely damaging.  The  High Court also recently found that the operation of the barracks was unlawful. But on top of all this, Priti Patel has just overridden planning law by trying to grant herself her own planning permission

The barracks should therefore close, and people seeking sanctuary should be accommodated in safe, community-based accommodation with free access to help and support. Local people should be involved in this process, and not ignored.

I am taking Priti Patel to Court, but I need your help. 

Who am I?

I am a local resident and a lead volunteer helping asylum seekers who are housed at Napier Barracks alongside a number of voluntary organisations. We help with clothing, access to healthcare, access to lawyers and other welfare problems caused by the poor conditions at the barracks.

What is Napier Barracks? Why should it close? 

Napier barracks is a disused army barracks which has been used as asylum accommodation since September 2020. There are currently over 200 men held in dormitories of up to 14 people with 28 people sharing bathroom facilities. In January 2021 there was a major Covid-19 outbreak in the barracks where half the residents contracted Covid-19 and there is currently a second Covid-19 outbreak.  

Napier Barracks is wholly inappropriate for use as asylum accommodation and is deeply harmful to the men seeking safety who are held there, many of whom are survivors of torture, trafficking or other forms of physical or psychological harm.

The Home Office used an emergency planning law to obtain permission to use Napier Barracks for a year. Local people were promised at a community meeting that this was a temporary "emergency" arrangement during the pandemic. It was a condition of the planning permission that any extension would require a full application for planning permission. That would have given local people a say, and would have allowed the full story to be told about the terrible conditions at the site. Instead, the Home Office has sidestepped this process by granting itself a new planning permission using a different law.  I want the court to rule that this is unlawful.

What am I trying to achieve? 

We want the court to rule that Napier Barracks should close, and that legal process should not be overridden like this; but we have to move quickly. Priti Patel's self-granted planning permission comes into force on 21 September 2021 and we need to get to court before then.

How much I am raising and why? 

To take this legal action, we need your help. Your donations will be used to pay court fees and legal costs.  Although I will ask the court for a "costs cap" on my costs for the case, I need to raise money to cover-off this potential liability. I also need to fundraise a contribution to my legal team's costs as they are working on a heavily discounted basis.

Your contribution may be used in relation to other litigation opposing the operation of Napier Barracks, which is under consideration by others with a close knowledge of the problems at the camp.

Thank you for your support.

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Update 5

Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

June 27, 2022

UPDATE: Success in the High Court!

I am thrilled to report that the High Court ruled on Friday 24 June 2022 that the Home Secretary had broken equalities law in her decision to grant herself planning permission to use Napier Barracks for a further 5 years from August 2021.  

Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that:

“106... there has been a failure to have proper regard to the [Public Sector Equality Duty]. The caselaw establishes that whether the s.149 duty has been complied with involves a highly fact sensitive inquiry, both into the nature of the decision and the form of the consideration of equality issues. The nature of the development here is one that raises very obvious issues under s.149, in particular relating to potential victimisation and harassment under s.149(1)(a), and the fostering of good relations under s.149(c). The provision of a large amount of segregated accommodation for male asylum seekers on the edge of the town has the obvious potential to create tensions within the local community....

107. ...there is a very significant difference between a development which is proposed to continue for two months and one for five years. This must especially be the case where the issue is developing community relations, as opposed to some physical impact which will vary little over time. Pressure on community services, for example on the local GP and community health services and possibly on the police, will be very much greater over a prolonged period than only two months. The potential for impact on community relations are wholly different over the much longer period...."

After a period of temporary emergency use of the camp as segregated asylum accommodation the August planning permission decision signalled a step-change in how the site was used.  We argued that what was happening at Napier Barracks was a step-change nationally in how asylum seekers were accommodated, and this had to be very carefully assessed and scrutinised. 

The High Court has now found that the equalities impacts of the change at Napier Barracks were not properly assessed.  

Mrs Justice Lieven also refused a government argument that this would make no difference, stating:

"113. I do not consider that this is a case where a fresh decision is highly likely to be the same and that quashing the decision would merely lead to a waste of time and money. It may be that the Defendant would still decide to use Napier Barracks as asylum accommodation. However, given the concerns raised about the impact on community relations of the use, and the complete absence of analysis of the effects of that use over five years on community relations, I am not in a position to say there would be “no difference” to the decision. Even if the substantive decision was the same, there is a real possibility that if proper investigation were made, and the Minister fully appraised as to the Equalities impacts of the development, further mitigation measures might be put in place. An EqIA for the five year use would inevitably consider impacts on local resources and this might well lead to a need to put further investment into those resources in ways that would reduce community impacts."

We are now waiting for the High Court's order to give effect to its judgment, which will likely follow after a further hearing in July 2022.  I will update at that point and about what will happen next in light of the High Court's judgment.

THANK YOU once again for all the support I have received.

Update 4

Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

March 28, 2022

We're going to court! (High Court hearing 29-30 March 2022)

Thank you to all who have supported the case so far. Tomorrow, 29 March 2022, we have our day in court at the High Court (Royal Courts of Justice). The trial hearing will last for 2 days.  This follows the High Court granting "Permission for Judicial Review" in December 2021. 

We are arguing that the the Home Office’s decision, without consultation, to continue using Napier Barracks as asylum accommodation for a further five years was unlawful. It breached planning law, ignored the need for environmental assessment, and breached the conditions of the previous - time limited -  emergency planning use. Of course, the inappropriate nature of the accommodation is the context for all of this.

In a bizarre twist, the Home Secretary consulted on her planning decision in January 2022 - i.e. 5 months after making the decision! This was after we got permission for judicial review in this case - coincidence perhaps?  Although we aren't challenging that decision itself, it is a good illustration of the kind of consultation that needed to happen BEFORE making the decision. Local people, and experts on the impact that barracks conditions are having on asylum seekers, still haven't had their say.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the case so far. It means that, at the very least, we have this chance to establish legal accountability for the unprecedented decision to effectively "self-grant" planning permission to run the UK's first "asylum camp" for another 5 years. 

Our team of barristers are from Landmark Chambers (Alex Goodman, Alex Shattock and Charles Bishop), instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors.

We are grateful for all your contributions so far.  We are still fundraising for the second legal challenge, led by Humans for Rights Network, regarding conditions at the camp, which requires the instruction of medical and detention facility experts. So all your contributions are still very welcome. Our legal team are working at highly discounted rates to make sure these cases get to court, but experts must be paid at a market rate.

Update 3

Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

Dec. 9, 2021

High Court grants permission on all grounds for planning law challenge!

The High Court has granted permission for our challenge of the Home Office’s decision, without consultation, to continue using Napier Barracks as asylum accommodation for a further five years, to proceed to a full hearing. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the Crowdjustice campaign so far. We are continuing to fundraise to cover the legal costs of the full hearing which will take place in early 2022 and you can read more about the Court's decision here: https://dpglaw.co.uk/high-court-grants-permission-for-judicial-review-in-legal-challenge-to-longterm-use-of-napier-barracks/

Humans for Rights Network  continue to work on challenging the current conditions at Napier Barracks and are preparing their legal challenge regarding the same. 

Update 2

Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

Sept. 19, 2021

Initial target reached! Case to be lodged at court and more

Thank you so much for all your support! I have now hit my target for the costs cap and enabled some other costs of the litigation to be paid (my lawyers are working on a heavily discounted basis). We will be issuing our case at Court in the coming days.

I will also share funds with Humans for Rights Network, a grass roots organisation who I work alongside supporting the men accommodated at Napier, and who are launching a second challenge to the ongoing use of Napier Barracks, arguing that conditions at the site and the continuing transfer of vulnerable individuals there breaches the law as it fails to rectify the issues the High Court ruled earlier this year to be unlawful. As I have met my initial target, your kind donations will be used to fund both cases on an approximately 50:50 basis.

You can read more about the Humans for Rights Network challenge here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/napier-barracks-home-office-priti-patel-b1920711.html

Update 1

Folkestone Resident and Napier Drop-In Centre Volunteer

Sept. 13, 2021

Press coverage and legal team

Thank you for the support that has started since we launched the page. The case has been covered here:

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/im-taking-priti-patel-to-court-but-i-need-your-help-253867/

I thought I would also confirm my legal team:

Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors (judicial review specialists, who already acted in the court case which criticised conditions at the barracks)

Landmark Chambers barristers: I have instructed three members of this chambers who are the leading barristers chambers for planning law in the country and are in the best position to argue why the Home Office's self-grant of planning permission is unlawful. 


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