THE Home Office is under attack for blatantly disregarding the law in relation to questions about the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli.
Members of the Furnace Action Committee, the group of volunteers set up to oppose the plan to house asylum seekers at the four-star hotel and spa, have submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office.
And the Home Office has failed to deliver the answers in the agreed time.
One of the questions surrounded a Russian investor in the hotel.
Steve Williams, from the Furnace Action Committee, has been leading the charge against the Home Office.
He said: “Sadly, the community of Furnace and Llanelli is being snubbed once again by the juggernaut Home Office, a Government machine which seems to be built on the idea that it can trample over the views of a community like ours.
“The Home Office have failed under the FOI (Freedom of Information) Act 2000 to respond to questions.
“This has now led to complaints of a breach of legislation being filed to the Information Commissioners Office ICO. The Home Office is showing total disregard for legislation passed by Parliament.
“The ICO’s role is to uphold information rights in the public interest. We have argued that our requests for information are very much in the public interest.”
Mr Williams explained: “On June 9, 2023, I requested information in relation to Russian investors in the Stradey Park and other hotels across the UK.
“As we are all well aware, since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine, wide-ranging sanctions have been put in place to clamp down on Russian investments.
“We asked for confirmation that Russian investments in hotels such as the Stradey Park were contrary to sanctions rules. We asked if Prime Minister Rushi Sunak was aware of such investments.
“To date, I have not received a reply, which is par for the course now in relation to the Home Office’s total contempt for the public when asking such questions.
“It is now 10 weeks since the request under the FOI Act, with no response. Therefore, I have today filed a complaint with the ICO for their failure.
“The Home Office will continue to say it is a national emergency and provide a pre-penned script. However, this is no longer about a ‘national emergency’. It is failure of a Government department to operate effectively and should be reviewed at the highest level.”
Mr Williams said he had also written directly to the Home Office.
His letter said: ‘You have now exceeded the agreed extension time relating to this FOI. The agreed extension under provisions of the FOI Act 2000 was up to August 8, 2023.
‘You have not provided me with any form of update or request to extend. Therefore, I will be instigating a complaint with the ICO regards your failing to adhere to legislation.
‘It is concerning that a Government department entrusted with ensuring the rule of law and upholding democracy does not answer to lawful requests enshrined in law.
‘The question relates in part to Government policy in relation to contracts involving Russian nationals after the invasion of Ukraine.’
The letter added the lack of response to the information request raised serious ‘questions about the Government actively trying to prevent Russia obtaining funds to support the war in Ukraine’.
Mr Williams said that he would progress the ICO complaint and continue to lobby the Home Office for answers.