Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Sunday, 21 March 2010

'Hunger strike' at Bedfordshire detention centre ends

Yarl's Wood
Women at Yarl's Wood have recently staged a protest over treatment

Women refusing food at a detention centre in Bedfordshire have started taking regular meals, a group said.

A campaign group said women on hunger strike at Yarl's Wood immigration centre near Bedford had suspended it to avoid permanent damage to their health.

They warned the strike would resume if no investigation is made of complaints, conditions and "arbitrary removals".

The UK Border Agency denied there was a hunger strike, claiming that the women had used shops and vending machines.

Black Women's Rape Action Project said the hunger strike had now been called off.

Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said: "We have proof that 'food refusers' are regularly purchasing food from the shop and vending machines.

Hearing into allegations

"They have all been seen by doctors who have no concerns about their health.

"Campaigning groups are being deliberately misled.

"All the individuals involved have been found by us and independent judges to have no right to stay in the UK."

An urgent High Court hearing has been ordered into claims of inhumane conditions at the detention centre.

Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said the case concerned the treatment of women and children involved in asylum and immigration claims.

Serco, the private company that runs Yarl's Wood, has described the allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment as "unfounded and untrue".

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