detention of children at Dungavel unlawful

Just one more item in a bad day for John Reid

detention of children at Dungavel unlawful

Full report atThe Herald 27 January 2007

After a court ruled on several test cases, the treatment of children in refugee detention centres was declared unlawful, after years of campaigning that centred on the Dungavel centre in Lanarkshire.

The Home Office conceded it had been wrong in locking up young people with adults, after a court ruled on several test cases.

The judicial ruling on detaining children of asylum seekers behind bars, in which several unnamed minors are claiming compensation for loss of liberty, led to the Home Secretary's admission that his policy "did not strike the right balance".

This followed years of Whitehall defence of a policy that became one of the hottest political issues in Scotland three years ago, and which was changed under pressure in November 2005.

The High Court in England is hearing four test cases for compensation, with 40 others to follow. Human rights lawyers say the final number could top 100.

Stewart Hosie, SNP home affairs spokesman at Westminster, seized on the judicial ruling, saying it was a scandal, a national disgrace and both morally and legally wrong that Dungavel has been used to detain children.