Test results which found Legionella bacteria on board the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port were received on the same day asylum seekers moved on board.

Dorset Council has confirmed they received results which identified Legionella bacteria on Monday August 7 2023, the same day the first asylum seekers moved on board the barge.

The Council informed barge operators CTN and Landry and Kling the same day of the results.

In the days that followed several more asylum seekers continued to move onto the barge each day until around 39 were living on board by Friday August 11.

Speaking this morning, Health Secretary Steven Barclay said that Home Office Ministers were not made aware of the bacteria "until Thursday evening".

At around 5.30pm on Friday evening, asylum seekers were informed about the bacteria in the water and began disembarking from the barge.

A Dorset Council spokesperson said: "Dorset Council received the preliminary results of samples taken on 25 July 2023 on 7 August. Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team informed the operator (contractors – CTM and Landry and Kling) as the responsible body for the barge, employed by the Home Office, of the sample results on the same day, 7 August.

"It is the responsibility of CTM and Landry & Kling, as the Home Office’s contractors and operators of the barge, to keep the Home Office informed of such matters.

"A visit was made by Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team on 8 August 2023 to further discuss results with the barge operator and the action that they proposed.

"In addition, a Home Office member of staff was verbally informed of the test results by Dorset Council on Tues 8 August.

"Another visit was made by Dorset Council officers on 9 August 2023 to take further samples.

"There was concern about control measures and Dorset Council sought advice from UKHSA on 9 August.

"A recommendation was made by UKHSA on 10 August 2023 for embarkation to stop whilst the situation was further assessed and a second round of sampling results received.

"Decisions about who is on board the vessel are the responsibility of the barge operator and the Home Office, based on advice from partners."

On Friday, a spokesperson for Public Health Dorset said: "As a precautionary measure, asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken. No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’.

"The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself, not the fresh water entering the vessel, therefore there is no risk for the wider community of Portland.

"Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person and can only be contracted from contaminated water, usually when it is inhaled in aerosol form."

Carralyn Parkes, Mayor of Portland said: "It is absolutely ludicrous, why did they wait until Friday, whenever they found out they should have moved off straight away.

"It beggars belief, the Home Office has behaved deplorably, not just to asylum seekers but to the staff who have been employed to work on their barge, that is their workplace.

"You cannot make it up, if you wrote it as a plot for a TV show they would laugh it out as being too ridiculous."