Serco apologises after stretch limo hired to move asylum seekers
A Home Office contractor has apologised for the "clearly inappropriate" decision to hire a stretch limo to ferry a party of asylum seekers from London to Manchester.
Serco said the move had not cost the taxpayer any extra money and that it was a one-off, and that new procedures had been introduced to prevent happening again.
The group of seven Africans was taken in a 16-seat Hummer from the hotel where they were staying while their claims were processed to their new homes, the Daily Mail reported.
The asylum seekers were said to have been staying in the village of Longford near Heathrow, which has been used as a temporary stopping-off point for new arrivals.
Pub landlord Rana Saif told the Mail: "The limo was here about half an hour. I thought it must be a stag do. There were seven migrants, all young African men.
"The driver said he was going to take them to Manchester and he was being paid £3,000. He said the Home Office would pay him."
A Home Office spokesman said Serco was responsible for arranging the transport and there was no additional cost to the taxpayer.
"However, this incident was totally inappropriate and Serco has apologised," the spokesman said.
"The terms of our contract with Serco requires them to take all reasonable steps to ensure transport is appropriate. We have reminded the company of their contractual obligations and expressed our strong disapproval."
Jenni Halliday, Serco's director for the Compass contract with the Home Office, said, "The transport provided, on this one occasion in July, was clearly inappropriate.
"There was no additional cost to the taxpayer. We have apologised to the Home Office and our internal processes have been changed to ensure that this will not happen again."