Inquest hears cause of death of asylum seeker Bibi Stockholm

An Albanian asylum seeker died of neck compression caused by hanging from a ligature, an inquest into his death on the barge Bibby Stockholm has heard.

Leonard Farooq, 27, died on the ship, which was in Portland harbor off Dorset and was housing migrants, last Tuesday.

Found unresponsive, told to begin questioning.

Coroner Rachael Griffin said there were not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Mrs Griffin told the hearing: “At the time of his death, Mr Farruku was staying at Bibby Stockholm in Portland Port in Dorset.

“He was a single gentleman and was unemployed at the time of his death.

“He died on 12 December 2023 in Bibby Stockholm.

“Police and paramedics had been called to reports of an unresponsive man. The gentleman was pronounced dead at the scene.”

The barge is moored in Portland Bay

(PA wire)

The inquest, at Dorset Coroner's Court in Bournemouth, was told that Farooq's body was formally identified by his cousin, Maraghlen Farooq, at Holly Tree Lodge Mortuary in Bournemouth.

Coroner Nikki Muller said: “He is supported by officers from Dorset Police.”

Ms Griffin adjourned the hearing until a preliminary hearing on July 9.

The coroner said she would seek evidence for the full inquest from Mr Farruku's family, the Home Office, Portland Port Authority, security provider Isca, Landry and King which runs Bibby Stockholm, as well as Dorset Council.

No family members were present at the brief hearing. But Farooq had claimed that migrants there were being treated “like animals”, his sister had previously said.

Home Secretary James Cleverley said the sudden death would be fully investigated.

A preliminary hearing is usually held to officially establish the identity of the deceased, the location of death and possibly the cause of death before it is adjourned for a full hearing at a later date.

Mr Farruku paid €4,000 to cross the English Channel in a small boat to reach the UK, according to The Daily Telegraph.

His sister, Jola Dushku, 33, who lives in Lombardy, Italy, said her brother had raised concerns with her about how migrants were treated at Bibby Stockholm.

She said The Telegraph: “When I spoke to him last time, he told me that the conditions on that boat were not bad, but they were treated like animals by the guards…

Protesters in Portland in Dorset following the arrival of the barge

(PA wire)

One bedroom at Bibby Stockholm

(PA)

“According to our relatives who are in contact with the police, Leonard that night at 11.00 pm had some problems and was calmed down by the security guard. At 3 in the morning he was found dead. We have no further details on how he died.”

The barge – the first to be used as part of government efforts to reduce asylum accommodation costs – can accommodate up to 500 men in 200 bedrooms.

Home Office permanent secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft last week revealed to MPs that the cost of the Bibby Stockholm contract was £22,450,772.

He said this covered the ‘ship accommodation services' part of the contract with CTM operators and the assessment of whether the vessel offered value for money was being updated.

The asylum seekers were first brought on board in August but disembarked days later after Legionella – the bacteria that can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease – was discovered in the water supply.

The migrants were transferred back to the barge about two months later, and public officials said last month that about 200 people were on board.

News of the death sparked criticism from charities who called for an independent review and an end to the use of such facilities for asylum accommodation.