Bibby Stockholm plans face fresh legal challenge over Government's 'callous disregard' for safety

27 August 2023, 16:58 | Updated: 27 August 2023, 17:34

The FBU is preparing a new legal challenge to ministerial plans to resume housing migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge, moored in Dorset
The FBU is preparing a new legal challenge to ministerial plans to resume housing migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge, moored in Dorset. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

A firefighters union could launch a new legal challenge to Government plans to house migrants on the Bibby Stockholm asylum barge - after accusing ministers of a 'callous disregard' for safety onboard the vessel.

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has sent Home Secretary Suella Braverman a "pre-action protocol letter" detailing concerns over the suitability of the vessel which is currently moored in Portland, Dorset.

The union has previously called the Bibby Stockholm, designed to hold 200 people, a "potential death trap" as ministers were preparing to fill the barge with up to 500 asylum seekers.

Read More: Rishi Sunak defends Bibby Stockholm migrant barge despite legionella bacteria discovery

Migrants were moved off the barge were moved off on August 11 after the legionella bacteria was discovered last week. Legionella can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman outside Downing Street
The FBU slammed the Home Secretary (pictured) for her "callous disregard" for the safety of migrant housing. Picture: Getty

General secretary Matt Wrack said: “The Fire Brigades Union is the professional voice of firefighters, and we have a duty to make our voices heard on matters of fire safety, especially when politicians let our members and the wider public down. We have been sounding the alarm about the Bibby Stockholm for weeks.

“It is disgraceful that the Home Secretary is not even willing to meet us to discuss these concerns.

"Throughout this episode, the Government has displayed a lack of transparency and a callous disregard for the safety of both firefighters and those who are due to be housed on the barge.

“Fires do not discriminate based on immigration status, and neither can fire safety regulations.

Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union
FBU boss Matt Wrack has notified the Government of his intention to challenge the policy in the courts. Picture: Getty

“Everyone, no matter where they are from, has the right to live in safe and decent accommodation, and firefighters have the right to expect that they will not be recklessly endangered.

“This is an industrial issue for the Fire Brigades Union, as our members are the ones expected to respond to any fire aboard the Bibby Stockholm. We have therefore decided to move towards a legal challenge on this matter.”

The latest concerns come as Dorset Council said the Legionella bacteria had been discovered on August 7, and that officers had notified the contractors operating the barge - meaning the migrants may have been exposed to the bacteria for four days.

Ministers said that they had been told on August 10, and that none of the migrants had fallen ill.