Mayor waits to see if she has won first round of migrant barge fight

A local councillor is waiting to see whether she has won the first stage of a High Court fight with Home Secretary Suella Braverman over the housing of asylum seekers on a barge.

Carralyn Parkes wants Mr Justice Holgate to give her the go-ahead to challenge the lawfulness of the use of the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Harbour, Dorset.

Mr Justice Holgate considered arguments at a High Court hearing in London on Tuesday, and is listed  to deliver a ruling on Wednesday.

Dorset residents and supporters of Carralyn Parkes outside the Royal Courts Of Justice in London
Dorset residents and supporters of Carralyn Parkes gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday (James Manning/PA)

Lawyers representing Mrs Braverman say Mrs Parkes’s challenge should be dismissed.

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset
The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge is moored at Portland Port in Dorset (James Manning/PA)

She is also arguing that Mrs Braverman has not complied with duties under the 2010 Equality Act.

Migrant barge court case
Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s lawyers argue that Mrs Parkes’s claim is ‘out of time’ (Yui Mok/PA)

They argued that Mrs Parkes’s claim was “out of time”, “without merit” and said the judge should refuse to give permission for the challenge to proceed to a trial.

Government lawyers said the local planning authority did not think planning permission was required.

They also argued there was no “general principle” that housing “non-British asylum seekers” together on a vessel was “unlawful” under a public sector equality duty.

Meanwhile, separately it is expected the first asylum seekers could be returned to the barge next week, after it was evacuated following the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water supply.

The Home Office said all necessary tests have been completed on the floating vessel, which has been out of use since August.

Letters are being sent to asylum seekers confirming their re-embarkation and it is understood the first people could begin returning to the vessel on October 19.

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