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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 04:19 GMT
'Racism exposed' at asylum centre
Yarl's Wood detention centre
Yarl's Wood can house up to 400 failed asylum seekers
An investigation is under way after an undercover reporter claimed to have exposed racism in one of Britain's most controversial detention centres.

The Daily Mirror said Nick Sommerlad spent seven weeks working as a security guard at Yarl's Wood, Bedfordshire, before being quizzed on his fake CV and sacked.

He claims to have heard racist comments from some staff members about the 60 women detainees at the centre

The Home Office is to "urgently" raise the claims with Group 4, which runs the centre.

According to the newspaper report, Mr Sommerlad allegedly heard a number of staff members make a catalogue of derogatory comments about the women.

It is claimed he even heard some talk of using violence against the detainees and "boasting" about it.

Yarl's Wood, which has around 150 staff and is due to house 400 people by 2005, re-opened in September after it was extensively damaged in a riot and fire on Valentine's Day last year.

Race relations legislation

A Home Office spokeswoman said of the Mirror reports: "Any allegations of this nature are taken very seriously.

"The Home Office requires that as part of their contract, Group 4 staff abide by race relations legislation and we will be urgently raising these allegations with Group 4."

She added: "The individual was immediately dismissed when the normal vetting process uncovered anomalies in his application form."

A spokeswoman for Group 4 at Yarl's Wood said: "We take all allegations very seriously. The company does not tolerate racism or any other discrimination in the workplace.

"We have not been able to inquire into allegations prior to the publication and a full and proper investigation will be conducted."

The report comes just weeks after the Mirror revealed another of its journalists was employed as a footman at Buckingham Palace.

Immigration centre 'not safe'
29 Sep 03  |  London
Riot-hit asylum centre re-opens
28 Sep 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood rebuild 'in doubt'
20 Aug 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
New plans for Yarl's Wood centre
19 Aug 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood inquiry 'must be public'
17 Aug 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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