Far-right activists filmed hassling asylum seekers in hotels

By Diane Taylor

Anger is mounting over a series of videos posted by far-right organisations in which activists enter hotels where asylum seekers are being held, knock on their doors to interrogate them and accuse them of wasting taxpayers’ money.

A video by Britain First, circulated widely on social media, shows a group of far-right activists entering a hotel in Bromsgrove, near Birmingham, and banging on bedroom doors, demanding to know what country the asylum seekers are from.

The Britain First members say in the video they have entered legally and that the hotel is housing illegal immigrants.

The asylum seekers appear not to understand who the far-right activists are. Most who are interrogated answer, perhaps believing the Britain First activists to be officials. Many of the asylum seekers could be at risk if their faces are shown on camera.

Campaigners from the group Status Now have raised concerns about the video and have complained to the Home Office and the accommodation provider Serco about the incident. The Guardian has contacted Serco for comment.

Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, condemned the incident. “The attacks on asylum seekers at this hotel are disgraceful and I stand in full solidarity with all those who are exercising their legal right to claim asylum,” she said. “Britain First and other hate groups represent the very worst of our country. They must not be given any platform to legitimise their vile anti-migrant discourse.”

Other similar videos are circulating on YouTube from far-right organisations, including one that shows asylum seekers being harassed outside their hotel in Newcastle.

Far-right organisations are also circulating on social media lists of hotels where asylum seekers are being accommodated.

One hotel on the list is Home Office accommodation in Wakefield where living conditions have been heavily criticised. The far-right list wrongly refers to it as an “Urban House Detection Centre”.

A spokesperson for the Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association, which monitors hate activity, said: “The violence and threats aimed at asylum seekers are a disturbing reminder of the danger to our wider society by these far-right extremists. This is fuelled by the xenophobic rhetoric broadcast by the likes of [the Brexit party leader Nigel] Farage and some mainstream commentators who feed fears in a time of pandemic.”

A spokesperson for West Mercia police said of the Bromsgrove incident: “Officers were called to a report of a group of people who had gained access to the Bromsgrove Hotel at just after 7.30pm on Thursday 20 August. The individuals had left the premises prior to police arrival and no criminal offences have been reported.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously. Any violence or abuse directed towards asylum seekers is completely unacceptable.”