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Harmondsworth Detainees: "We Were Punished for Channel 4 Documentary"

13/03/2015 11:22 GMT | Updated 12/05/2015 10:59 BST

Harmondsworth detainees claim that staff members restricted their access to water on Tuesday, as "punishment" for aiding a Channel 4 investigation into the treatment of asylum seekers.

In an anonymised recording obtained by Standoff Films, detainees claim that staff members at the centre were "punishing" those who spoke to journalists about ill-treatment at the Immigration Removal Centre.

The water supply was allegedly revoked for hours, as a retaliation against those involved with the expose. One anonymous detainee spoke to documentary-makers about the developing situation.

"G Wing is on hunger strike and they [Mitie staff] closed the water supply over there" he said.

"Some guys [from G Wing] gave an interview on Channel 4. That's why they are getting punished."

According to audio interviews with those inside Harmondsworth, the water shortage made it difficult for inmates to complete ordinary tasks such as drinking or bathing. "We can't drink water, we can't go to the shower" said one detainee.

Channel 4's investigation found that conditions in the centre were inadequate, with some asylum-seekers waiting as long as three years to be freed. Harrowing scenes were depicted, included the plea of one detainee begging to be released before threatening to take his own life.

The documentary elicited public outrage, and prompted an eventual investigation by home affairs select committee chair, Keith Vaz.

The channel's undercover recordings also illustrated Home Office concerns surrounding negative press coverage, with one guard explaining the impetus behind banning cameras in the centre.

"... you guys are taking photos of these bad conditions like the rats and whatever other s*** that's in here and you're sending that outside sending it to the news or whatever - that looks bad for the government"

Hundreds of detainees continue to hunger strike for improved conditions in the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. Campaigners claim that one detainee is currently hospitalised due to the protest.