Daily Mail

‘This isn’t search and rescue... this is illegal traffickin­g,’ captain blasts French navy


THE captain of an English cargo ship has accused the French navy of ‘illegally traffickin­g immigrant boats’ across the Channel to Dover.

In damning radio messages, the angry senior officer complained to the French coastguard when his vessel, Scot Pioneer, was stopped from entering Dunkirk harbour as navy vessels, including a warship, guided the trafficker­s’ boats around his ship.

In response, the coastguard informed him that there was an ‘arrangemen­t’ between the London and Paris government­s for the French navy to escort migrant boats towards Britain.

The captain begins his protest by radioing the French coastguard with the words: ‘I would like to report what is an illegal operation in your waters.

‘This morning we witnessed a French government vessel and a French navy warship escort a boat-load of illegal immigrants across the Channel to the midway point where they handed them over to another [Border Force] ship out of Dover. It has now arrived there.

‘Now I have the French warship passing under my stern, passing another boat-load of immigrants across the Channel. There is also another [French] vessel to the west of us which is escorting a third boat of migrants.

‘This is not search and rescue – this is illegal traffickin­g of humans.’

A fisherman in British waters, who picked up the open-channel recordings, told the Mail: ‘This captain witnessed first-hand the French navy escorting dinghies to waiting British Border Force vessels.’

A record number of 5,000 people in 100 small boats reached the UK from France this year by the end of March.

A Government spokesman said: ‘The unacceptab­le number of people who continue to cross the Channel demonstrat­es exactly why we must get the flights to Rwanda off the ground as soon as possible.

‘We work with France in the English Channel to ensure people are recovered as safely as possible. Our successful work together helped to cut arrivals by more than a third last year.’

Staff at Scotline, the company which owns the Pioneer Scot, declined to name its captain.

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 ?? ?? Patrol: Migrants escorted by a French navy vessel. Inset, the Scot Pioneer
Patrol: Migrants escorted by a French navy vessel. Inset, the Scot Pioneer

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