Dame Vanessa Redgrave has donated £4,000 to Portland Mayor Carralyn Parkes' legal campaign challenging the Home Office’s use of the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate asylum seekers.

The actor, Academy Award winner and human rights campaigner has been a critic of the government’s policy to house asylum seekers on the barge.

The Bibby Stockholm has remained unoccupied since August 11 when asylum seekers were evacuated after spending just four days aboard the barge following the discovery of legionella bacteria.

Carralyn Parkes is bringing a legal challenge against the barge being used as asylum accommodation, arguing the Home Office has breached planning rules.

She set up a Crowdjustice page to fund the legal fees for the current stage of the case with a target of £25,000.

More than 900 people have donated money to the page but Redgrave’s £4,000 donation enabled the fund to reach its target.

Mrs Parkes said: “I’m particularly grateful to a large donation from Dame Vanessa Redgrave, a longstanding activist and defender of refugee rights, who got us across the £25,000 line.

"It’s just incredible to get support from somebody who has got such a long track record of campaigning for human rights”

"The case will be in the High Court on October 10 for a permission hearing. The judge will decide whether the case is 'arguable' and if it should proceed to a full judicial review."

In a letter to the Financial Times, Redgrave, 86, spoke of the first time she learned about the “horrendous British prison ships and the British penal system of the 1850s” when she was taken to see the film version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and read the book at the age of eight.

She compared the Bibby Stockholm barge with those prison ships.

“Is today’s treatment of asylum seekers, housing them in a barge, cruel? Yes. Inhuman? Yes. Illegal? I hope it will be found to be so and believe it would be under international human rights law. A fire hazard? I fear so. A virtual prison. Yes,” she wrote.