Sat. Nov 19th, 2022

A man who arrived in the UK by small boat a week ago and was being processed in Manston has died, the Home Office said on Saturday. He fell ill while in custody in Kent and was taken to hospital but later died.

It is learned that he arrived on November 12 and that he fell ill on Friday evening.

“We can confirm that a person who was staying in Manston died this morning [Saturday] in hospital after he became unwell,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior.

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to all those affected. Until a post mortem is carried out we cannot comment on the details but at this stage there is no evidence to suggest that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease.

“We take the safety and well-being of those in our care extremely seriously and provide a 24-hour healthcare facility with trained medical staff in Manston.”

The case was assigned to the coroner and the Independent Office for Police Activities.

An IOPC spokesman confirmed they had received a referral from the Home Office following the man’s death and will now assess it to determine if further action is required.

The Home Office said the man was not believed to be suffering from any infectious disease. The Guardian has received unconfirmed reports that he has contracted sepsis.

Sources from the Ministry of Internal Affairs said they were trying to get in touch with the man’s next of kin.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said a “full investigation” would be required. “Deep condolences to the family and friends of the man who passed away after staying at Manston,” she wrote on Twitter. “Of course a full investigation will be required into this tragic case.”

Inquest, a charity which provides expertise on state-linked deaths, has called for an independent inquiry. Deborah Coles, its director, said: “It seems like it was only a matter of time before a death like this happened in this fully closed facility.

“Regardless of the concerns about the conditions and the impact on the mental and physical health of the people staying there, an independent investigation is needed to hold the various agencies involved to account. Maybe this death will shock people into doing something about the Manston plant.”

It is believed to be the first death of someone prosecuted at Manston.

The facility provides basic temporary accommodation to small boat arrivals while they undergo processing and can accommodate 1,000 people, with a maximum of 1,600, but was described as “catastrophically overcrowded” in October. In recent days, the numbers on the Manston site are thought to have fallen to as low as 650.

Manston has been hit by a series of scandals including reports of infectious diseases such as diphtheria, guards selling drugs to asylum seekers and some new arrivals being left stranded in central London. There are ongoing legal disputes regarding the conditions on the site.

Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais, which works with asylum seekers in the UK and northern France, said: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of this man.”

She added that the charity “remains concerned about the health facilities in the centre”.