Private security firm G4S have been accused of behaving in a “disgraceful” manner by Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael after the firm painted the doors of asylum seekers houses red.
Mr Carmichael’s attack on G4S came after national newspaper reports suggested that the company had painted the doors of houses in Middlesbrough to identify where asylum seekers were living.
Some commentators dubbed the move 21st-century apartheid and compared it to the use of yellow stars to identify Jews in Nazi Germany.
Liberal Democrat councillors in Middlesbrough had previously raised the issue as far back as 2012, and were told by G4S that no complaints had been received.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Carmichael urged the government to take immediate action to rectify the situation.
He said: “It is my understanding that concerns about this practice of painting doors red were first raised in 2012 by my Liberal Democrat colleague and then Middlesbrough councillor, Suzanne Fletcher.
“She was told by G4S that it had received no complaints, so there was no need to take any action. That could manifestly not be the case, and does it not raise in the minister’s mind at least a suspicion that an audit is somewhat less than what is required?
“Yet again G4S has come to public attention for all the wrong reasons, and yet again it has been found wanting.”
Immigration minister, and Tory MP for the London constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup, James Brokenshire said: “I discussed with the chief executive this morning the issue of complaints and when the matter was first made known to G4S.
“It is a matter that he has committed to examine further to get to the bottom of how G4S handled the issue.”
Commenting after the discussion in the House of Commons Mr Carmichael said: “I would not have been the only person to be deeply concerned by the actions of G4S in Middlesbrough as reported in The Times newspaper.
“It is utterly unacceptable for asylum seekers to be treated in this way.
“Painting the doors of those who are seeking asylum in order to ‘mark’ them when they have come to this country to seek peace and sanctuary is completely disgraceful.
“Such actions expose them to threats and violence, and, according to local MPs speaking in Parliament, this has been occurring.
“Questions must be asked about why they [G4S] are contracted out for such sensitive public sensitive.”
He added: “The debate about asylum seekers in this country is getting more and more poisonous and divisive.
“Actions like this by G4S help to create that attitude of suspicion towards those seeking legitimate sanctuary.”
Following the publication of the story on Wednesday G4S has insisted there was no deliberate policy to make asylum seekers live in homes with red doors.