The front doors of asylum seekers' houses will be re-painted different colours, after it was revealed almost all their doors were red, leaving them open for targeted attacks.
Asylum seekers in Middlesbrough had told how they faced graffiti being daubed on their doors and rubbish thrown at their houses because the properties were easily located.
They also recollected incidents of having had dog excrement smeared across the entrance to their homes and eggs and stones being thrown at windows. A 'National Front' logo was carved into the door of one house.
One former local MP reportedly compared the use of red paint, used on terraced streets in a deprived area of the northern town, to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
Asylum seekers living in terraced houses with red doors were targeted
Times journalists visited 168 Middlesbrough homes occupied by asylum seekers, discovering that 155 had red doors.
The properties are owned by Stuart Monk, 66, who earns millions of pounds each year for providing accommodation to thousands of asylum seekers from Syria and parts of eastern Europe.
He is worth an estimated £175 million.
Millionaire Monk, pictured, owns the sub-contractor responsible for the painting policy
"They put us behind red doors. When people see them, everyone knows it means asylum seekers. It’s like saying we’re not the same as you,” one man whose house was allegedly targeted told them.
G4S said there was no policy to house asylum seekers solely behind red doors, and promised to repaint them different colours in light of the news today.
But one resident said that after they re-painted their front door white, a Jomast employee visited and said it was "against company policy". They were forced to have the door repainted red.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire responded by vowing to commission an urgent audit of asylum seeker housing in North East England.
"I expect the highest standards from our contractors. If we find any evidence of discrimination against asylum seekers it will be dealt with immediately as any such behaviour will not be tolerated," he said.
Suzanne Fletcher, chair of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary and a councillor in the area for over 30 years, said she had originally raised concerns over the issue four years ago.
"We were working with groups of asylum seekers and they were so worried it marked them out... They were very worried about attacks," she lamented.
"We sat in meetings with G4S – constructive, helpful meetings, was the idea – and we met with them on a number of issues, and in September 2012 we asked G4S if they would do something about the red doors.
"They replied that they had no intention of doing anything about it. They wouldn't be asking Jomast to be changing the red doors on their houses."
G4S were 'told about the issue in 2012', Fletcher claimed
Prominent Labour MP Chuka Umunna blasted the news as "appalling", saying it was "a scar on our country".
If, following the Home Office audit, these claims are proven, this story is a scar on our country. Appalling https://t.co/XFs4nWE46b
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) January 20, 2016
G4S said in a statement: "Although we have received no complaints or requests on this issue from asylum seekers we house, in light of the concerns raised Jomast has agreed to address the issue by repainting front doors in the area so that there is no predominant colour.
"Our asylum accommodation is inspected frequently by the Home Office and has been found to meet the required standards."
Jomast's Stuart Monk added: "Our accommodation is inspected frequently by the Home Office and has been found to meet or exceed the required standards.
"As many landlords will attest, paint is bought in bulk for use across all properties. It is ludicrous to suggest that this constitutes any form of discrimination, and offensive to make comparisons to a policy of apartheid in Nazi Germany.
"However we have agreed to repaint doors in a range of colours after these concerns were brought to our attention."
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more