News, Culture & Society

Border Force pleads with Royal Navy to step in to stop migrants

UK Border Force has pleaded with the Ministry of Defence to help in the Dover Strait amid a sharp rise in the number of migrants making the treacherous journey across the channel. 

The coastguard is today responding to a ‘number of incidents’ off the coast of Kent while multiple Border Force vessels remain active in the Channel following a high number of crossings in recent days.

The Ministry of Defence said it has received a formal request from the Home Office to support UK Border Force. 

In a statement, the MoD said: ‘We are assessing the requirement using the formal Military Aid to the Civilian Authorities process and are working hard to identify how we can most effectively assist.

‘As ever the MoD will do all it can to support HMG requirements.’ 

Pictures today emerged of a toddler being carried to safety by the Border Force from a boat containing at least six others. There appeared to be other young children on board.

A toddler (pictured) was carried to safety by the Border Force as officials work around the clock amid a sharp rise in the number of people making the treacherous journey across the channel

The youngster was carried from a boat containing at least six others. There appeared to be other young children on board

The youngster was carried from a boat containing at least six others. There appeared to be other young children on board

Border Force officers escort a group of men - believed to be migrants - all wearing protective face masks in Dover

Border Force officers escort a group of men – believed to be migrants – all wearing protective face masks in Dover

Border Force vessel brings a group of people - including children - thought to be migrants into the port city of Dover

Border Force vessel brings a group of people – including children – thought to be migrants into the port city of Dover

UK ministers plead with France to get tough on Channel migrants amid warning that 7,500 could cross by Christmas 

UK ministers have pleaded with France to get tough on migrants crossing the Channel to Britain after figures suggest that 7,500 migrants could cross by Christmas. 

Almost 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, according to analysis of Border Force figures.

This is thought to be more than double the total for the whole of 2019 where fewer than 2,000 are believed to have arrived in the country.

On current trends, around 7,500 migrants will cross the Channel by the end of the year, according to an analysis of official figures by Migrationwatch.

This would be nearly four times the 1,892 that entered the UK via the crossing in the whole of 2019, the campaign group projected.

Almost 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, according to analysis of Border Force figures.

This is thought to be more than double the total for the whole of 2019 where fewer than 2,000 are believed to have arrived in the country.

On current trends, around 7,500 migrants will cross the Channel by the end of the year, according to an analysis of official figures by Migrationwatch.

This would be nearly four times the 1,892 that entered the UK via the crossing in the whole of 2019, the campaign group projected.  

Kent county council has seen more than 500 unaccompanied child migrants, 23 of which came in on Thursday alone.

Council leader Roger Gough told The Times: ‘Numbers started picking up last year with young people coming through in lorries. Then with the shutdown and disruption to freight channels, there was much more reliance on boats.

‘We do not want a situation when there are adults in a setting with children and young people.  

Ministers are said to be considering using Australia’s ‘push back’ method – a tactic used to stop illegal migrants arriving from Indonesia – according to sources. 

It would involve using the navy to intercept migrant boats in the channel.

But some are concerned that such drastic interventions could lead to drownings – with some questioning whether the move would be legal in the first place.

One source in the Defence Ministry said it was ‘completely potty’ to get the navy involved, The Times reported.

Migrants were photographed using shovels to paddle their boats (pictured) and some have used paddling pools instead of proper vessels

Migrants were photographed using shovels to paddle their boats (pictured) and some have used paddling pools instead of proper vessels

Just this morning a group of people thought to be migrants were escorted by Border Force staff into Dover

Just this morning a group of people thought to be migrants were escorted by Border Force staff into Dover

A border force vessel brought the group into Dover today after 130 people made the perilous crossing on Friday

A border force vessel brought the group into Dover today after 130 people made the perilous crossing on Friday

A group of migrants attempting to cross the channel in a dinghy were picked up by the National Gendarmerie and taken back to Calais today

A group of migrants attempting to cross the channel in a dinghy were picked up by the National Gendarmerie and taken back to Calais today

The group of weary migrants attempted to cross the channel by dinghy. They are pictured being escorted back to France

The group of weary migrants attempted to cross the channel by dinghy. They are pictured being escorted back to France

The National Gendarmerie escorted the migrants back to France after they tried to cross the channel

The National Gendarmerie escorted the migrants back to France after they tried to cross the channel

One group of 14 migrants – including a heavily pregnant woman – managed to land on the Kent coast this morning and came ashore in the village of Kingsdown, near Deal.

Officers were seen taking away possessions in evidence bags as the migrants sat on the pebbles looking tired after completing their journey.

Two other groups reportedly landed at Folkestone and Deal while multiple boats were brought into Dover Marina on what is expected to be another busy day for Border Force officials.

A second extra large customs cutter was drafted in to help deal with people making the treacherous 21-mile journey across the world’s busiest shipping route.

The Dover Lifeboat did not return to the marina until shortly before 8pm on Friday after being called out to more migrants in trouble at 4.30pm.

Their first call out was at around 3.30am and the crew were back at sea at 9am today with crossings expected to continue until at least midday. 

It comes after more than 130 migrants were picked up in 13 small boats on Friday.

On Thursday, 235 people landed or were brought ashore from boats in the English Channel, a record number for a single day.

In some cases, makeshift flotation devices have been created out of household items.

A man was found with empty lemonade bottles strapped to his body just four miles off the French coast in a highly-dangerous bid to swim to Britain.   

In another shocking case, a group tried to get to the other side of the channel in a children’s paddling pool while some have tried wooden boats or kayaks. 

Pictured: A swimmer crosses the English Channel as, in the background, a dinghy carrying migrants is escorted by French border police on Friday

Pictured: A swimmer crosses the English Channel as, in the background, a dinghy carrying migrants is escorted by French border police on Friday

Almost 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year. Pictured: Children are picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter after being brought into Dover, Kent on small boats crossing the English Channel

Almost 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year. Pictured: Children are picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter after being brought into Dover, Kent on small boats crossing the English Channel

Border Force officer escorts a young family thought to be migrants from a Border Force vessel in Dover

Border Force officer escorts a young family thought to be migrants from a Border Force vessel in Dover

Immigration still too high – poll 

More than half of Britons think immigration is still too high despite years of Tory promises to bring it down, a study said yesterday.

It warned Boris Johnson that if his points-based immigration system allows a wave of mass immigration, then voters will turn against him.

The study from the Migration Watch UK think-tank said most recent polling found that 54 per cent think immigration has been too high over the past decade.

Only 5 per cent think it has been too low. And more than six in ten said they believe the Government has been mishandling immigration policies.

The analysis found that fears over the effects of large-scale immigration became a major concern after Tony Blair opened the doors to millions from both inside and outside the European Union.

Worries declined after David Cameron came to power in 2010 promising to cut immigration back to 1990s levels and subsided further after the 2016 Brexit referendum. 

The report said: ‘Most continue to have strong views about a perceived lack of effective immigration control.’

 

Harrowing images of children wearing lifevests being picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter after being brought into Dover, Kent, on a small boat emerged this week. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the Royal Navy could be called in to prevent boats reaching UK waters, though other senior officials and politicians say that could be impractical and potentially dangerous. 

She tweeted: The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling and unacceptably high. 

‘The figures are shameful. France and other EU states are safe countries. Genuine refugees should claim asylum there, not risk their lives and break the law by coming to the UK.

‘I am working to make this route unviable. This involves: Stopping the boats leaving France in the first place and intercepting boats and returning those attempting to make a crossing.

‘This is complex to do and we face serious legislative, legal and operational barriers.’

But Labour former home secretary Jack Straw said any move modelled on Australia’s controversial ‘push-back’ approach could have deadly consequences.

‘I don’t think that just trying to push these people back is going to work and it will only take one of these dinghies to capsize and everybody to drown, which is perfectly feasible, for their to be a hullabaloo, including in the Conservative Party, and for the policy to have to be reversed, so I wouldn’t go down that route,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Border Force chief Tony Smith said extra resources may not solve the problem as the Navy would ‘be in the same boat as Border Force in terms of policy. The only powers we have are search and rescue and that is what we have been doing’. 

He said that dangerous crossings of the Channel by boat will continue without an agreement with the French to return migrants.

He said smugglers are exploiting a ‘loophole’ in the law of the sea which obliges vessels to rescue people once they enter the waters of their jurisdiction.

‘I think it can be overcome by bilateral agreements, we’ve done that before with the French.

‘Once you’re on the waterways the law of the sea kicks in and we haven’t, without a bilateral agreement on instant returns or joint patrols with the French, which would enable us to safely return them to France to be processed, we’re going to see I’m afraid continual numbers of this.

‘And we need to find a way of breaking this circle and stopping the pull factor which is fuelling the smuggling supply chains.’

A tiny baby was spotted yesterday morning arriving in Dover with its family after crossing the Channel in a dinghy - carried in what appears to be a gym bag

A tiny baby was spotted on Thursday morning arriving in Dover with its family after crossing the Channel in a dinghy – carried in what appears to be a gym bag

Former Royal Navy officer Rear Admiral Chris Parry said ‘innovative solutions’ like using unemployed passenger liners to re-route migrants are needed.

He said: ‘We don’t have to take them back to dry land. There’s any number of unemployed passenger liners on the south coast at the moment, they could actually be taken there for processing for medical assessment and then onward routing either back to France or to the United Kingdom.

‘I think people need to understand that the old ways are just not cutting it at the moment and we need to apply innovative solutions.’

But Mr Smith said: ‘Once they are under our jurisdiction we will immediately face asylum claims.

‘Without that agreement from the French to actually interdict people on the high seas and take them back to France the message is getting back to the migrants and to the smugglers that this is the way in and that does create a huge pull factor.

‘We could see something very similar to what we saw in the Mediterranean three or four years ago where the word will get out that all you need to do is get out on to the English Channel, you will be brought into the UK and it’s very unlikely you’ll be returned.’ 

MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke said more needs to be done to stop the crossings. 

She said: ‘Putting an end to the small boats crossings crisis will only happen when migrants and traffickers alike know that they won’t succeed in breaking Britain in this way.

‘For me that has three parts: firstly making sure that the boats don’t leave France in the first place, if they do leave French shores that they’re picked up early, and returned immediately to France and if people do break into our country and arrive on our shores that they are turned back to France.’

Asked about speculation that Ms Patel was considering drafting in the Navy, Ms Elphicke said: ‘There’s some discussion about the Navy, and what I’d say is that as we’ve gone into this record number of people crossing over this year all options need to be on the table.

‘But whoever it is that’s involved what we must make sure is that boats are deployed not to bring people into this country but to return them to France and for the French to do more to make sure that those boats don’t leave in the first place.’

Ms Elphicke said the UK has an ‘incredibly important’ role in humanitarian and asylum issues around the world.

She added: ‘What I don’t agree with is that we should be encouraging or allowing illegal people trafficking that actually preys on some of the most vulnerable people and puts them at risk of their very lives.

‘What we’ve seen here in Kent, here in Dover and Deal, is we’ve seen an unacceptable situation of small boats actually arriving at the beaches, of people getting off those boats and roaming round the area and that’s very, very worrying and concerning for local residents.’

The fleet of dinghies included a a girl aged around eight, another around 10 as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town

The fleet of dinghies included a a girl aged around eight, another around 10 as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town

It comes as migrants crossing the Channel were seen using makeshift flotation devices including lemonade bottles to make the dangerous journey.

Migrants were photographed using shovels to paddle their boats and some have used paddling pools instead of proper vessels.

Clare Moseley of the Care4Calais charity told The Times: ‘The people who do not have money, and not everybody can pay people smugglers, are seeing others getting across and are getting more and more desperate that they will be left out.

‘They try kayaks, wooden rowing boats. It is terrifying.’

Lucy Moreton, professional officer of the Immigration Service Union, said: ‘Prices for crossing have fallen but for some people an average price of around £4,000 per crossing per individual is too much.’

Ms Elphicke’s fellow local Tory MP Damian Collins said the number of migrants crossing the Channel is ‘shamefully high’ and ‘unacceptable’ for his constituents.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Mr Collins, who represents Folkestone and Hythe, said: ‘It’s good to have more observation at sea and more ships that can intervene if there’s a problem, but having the Navy there doesn’t mean we can suddenly intercept migrants in French territorial waters any more than we would let the French navy conduct operations within ours.’

Mr Collins said: ‘It’s clearly unacceptable for my constituents and for other people on the south-east coast to think that our borders are open, that anyone can get in a small boat, whoever they are, and make their way to the UK illegally.

‘Having the Navy in the Channel is great, but it won’t solve the problem unless they can patrol French waters and at the moment there is no agreement that they can.’ 

The Home Secretary’s spokesman said the ‘fantastic weather’ was behind the surge despite ongoing efforts to prevent them while Immigration Minister Chris Philp said he shares ‘the anger and frustration of the public’ at the ‘appalling number’ of crossings.

Mr Philp is to visit France next week to speak with counterparts following a ‘constructive’ meeting with the country’s deputy ambassador earlier this week.

The fleet of dinghies included a girl aged around eight, another about 10, as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town.

The children, some too young to walk, were picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter and taken into a white tent at the marina at 12.15pm.

Some of the adults – who appeared mainly to be men – carried their possessions in plastic bags before they were processed.

Rishi Sunak yesterday promised swift action to turn back the ‘tide’ of migrant boats heading for the UK from France as he refused to rule out using the Royal Navy.

The Chancellor said people were right to be 'frustrated', the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing ¿ the highest daily total since the crisis began

The Chancellor said people were right to be ‘frustrated’, the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began

The Chancellor said people were right to be ‘frustrated’ the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began.

The figure, which surpasses the previous record of 202 set last Thursday, prompted officials to draw up plans where for the first time the Navy could turn back boats.

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019.

Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said it was ‘absolutely essential’ to stop the continued migrant crossings and said ‘all options need to be on the table’ to keep them from arriving from France, including the Navy.

‘Putting an end to the small boats crossings crisis will only happen when migrants and traffickers alike know that they won’t succeed in breaking Britain in this way,’ she said.

‘For me that has three parts: firstly making sure that the boats don’t leave France in the first place, if they do leave French shores that they’re picked up early, and returned immediately to France and if people do break into our country and arrive on our shores that they are turned back to France.’ 

Among yesterday’s illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel intercepted by Border Force officers.

They were given face masks and were seen being bundled into a bus at around 10.30am.

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm.

Meanwhile Border Force workers had to rush to save a group of 17 migrants whose boat broke down in front of the White Cliffs of Dover.

A further nine men were seen leaving Hunter at 12.50pm wearing life jackets as authorities wore white masks to escort them to a coach.

And seven more male refugees were brought into the harbour on the vessel Speedwell at 1.30pm.

A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘HM Coastguard is today coordinating search and rescue responses to a number of incidents off Kent, working with Border Force and other partners.

‘We are committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.

‘HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said it was 'absolutely essential' to stop the continued migrant crossings and said 'all options need to be on the table' to keep them from arriving from France, including the Navy

Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said it was ‘absolutely essential’ to stop the continued migrant crossings and said ‘all options need to be on the table’ to keep them from arriving from France, including the Navy

Among yesterday's illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel that was intercepted by Border Force officers

Among yesterday’s illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel that was intercepted by Border Force officers

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019

A Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus after they were brought into Dover this morning

 A Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus after they were brought into Dover this morning

Speaking on a visit to Scotland earlier today, Mr Sunak said: ‘I think people are absolutely right to be frustrated at the scenes they’re seeing. 

‘I’m frustrated, everyone is, which is why we’ve been working much more closely with the French government in recent time to improve our co-operation and intelligence-sharing to police crossings.

‘The immigration minister will be visiting France again, I believe next week, to discuss how we can step up that co-operation and take further action, further measures and stronger measures as required to stop and reduce the tide of boats coming.’

Asked about reports the Navy will be used, he said: ‘I wouldn’t want to speculate on exactly what measures will be put in place.

‘It’s important that we work closely with our French allies on this situation.

‘Obviously France is a safe country for migrants to be. We all want to see these crossings reduced and, pending the outcomes of those conversations, we can decide on the best next steps to take.’ 

Ms Elphicke, whose husband Charlie was convicted of sex attacks last month, said the UK has an ‘incredibly important’ role in humanitarian and asylum issues.

She added: ‘What I don’t agree with is that we should be encouraging or allowing illegal people trafficking that actually preys on some of the most vulnerable people and puts them at risk of their very lives.

‘What we’ve seen here in Kent, here in Dover and Deal, is we’ve seen an unacceptable situation of small boats actually arriving at the beaches, of people getting off those boats and roaming round the area and that’s very, very worrying and concerning for local residents.’

A ‘furious’ Home Secretary last night backed plans for the Senior Service to patrol the  English Channel.

Nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year.

The crisis is a personal blow for Ms Patel, who made a pledge last October that crossings would be virtually eliminated by now.

A Home Office source said: ‘The final straw was this record number, which led the Home Secretary to demand this new initiative. The real solution must come from the French – we want the French to take them back.’ 

On Thursday up to 235 migrants crossed the channel ¿ the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week

On Thursday up to 235 migrants crossed the channel – the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week

A ¿furious¿ Priti Patel backed sending Royal Navy patrols into the English Channel on Thursday night after the record number of migrants reached Britain

A ‘furious’ Priti Patel backed sending Royal Navy patrols into the English Channel on Thursday night after the record number of migrants reached Britain

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019

Last night sources said Navy vessels could now begin turning migrant boats back to France in a major escalation of tactics.

Mrs Patel has told MPs she has obtained legal advice that such a move would be legal under international maritime law.

But the tactic would be highly controversial and risk alienating the French government, which has told Britain it believes it to be illegal.

Immigration still too high – poll 

More than half of Britons think immigration is still too high despite years of Tory promises to bring it down, a study said yesterday.

It warned Boris Johnson that if his points-based immigration system allows a wave of mass immigration, then voters will turn against him.

The study from the Migration Watch UK think-tank said most recent polling found that 54 per cent think immigration has been too high over the past decade.

Only 5 per cent think it has been too low. And more than six in ten said they believe the Government has been mishandling immigration policies.

The analysis found that fears over the effects of large-scale immigration became a major concern after Tony Blair opened the doors to millions from both inside and outside the European Union.

Worries declined after David Cameron came to power in 2010 promising to cut immigration back to 1990s levels and subsided further after the 2016 Brexit referendum. 

The report said: ‘Most continue to have strong views about a perceived lack of effective immigration control.’

 

Other emergency measures being considered by the Home Office include using Navy vessels to block the path of migrant boats.

It is understood smaller military craft would be used, rather than larger vessels such as frigates or destroyers. The Royal Marines could play a key role, sources said. 

British forces could also use nets to entangle propellers or floating ‘booms’ to block the way for migrants dinghies.

Both methods were tested in secret trials in May and June involving Navy ships and Border Force boats.

A Government source said: ‘These are all options that are being considered. The Home Secretary is furious about this daily total, which we think is as high as 250.’

It is now understood the figure is 235, according to the BBC. 

The source added: ‘She has instructed her officials to speak to the Ministry of Defence about how we can proceed. She has also requested a discussion with the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.’

Civil servants from both departments have conducted initial talks and the Home Secretary may follow these up with a formal request for assistance from the Ministry of Defence. 

Yesterday’s arrivals included at least ten young children and a heavily-pregnant woman, who were aboard a boat which landed on Dungeness beach in Kent.

One of the children, a boy aged around four, looked exhausted as he lay back on the pebble beach with his arms spread out. The heavily-pregnant woman was wearing a black dress and face mask as she held the hand of a child.

She looked weary and had her head in her hand at one point, after being picked up by a lifeboat.

Amateur photographer Susan Pilcher, who saw the group on the beach, said: ‘I could hear the Border Force workers asking the woman how many months pregnant she was, and she replied ‘eight’.

Mrs Pilcher added: ‘When you think she’s doing such a risky crossing over the Channel when she’s heavily pregnant, that says how much they’ve been through.’

A British patrol boat also towed a kayak into the Port of Dover yesterday.

A group of around 16 migrants including 10 kids and an eight-month pregnant woman landed on Dungeness beach, Kent, yesterday

A group of around 16 migrants including 10 kids and an eight-month pregnant woman landed on Dungeness beach, Kent, yesterday

Nigel Farage took to his Twitter feed to share an exclusive video of migrants arriving in the UK, including several children

Nigel Farage took to his Twitter feed to share an exclusive video of migrants arriving in the UK, including several children

The Home Secretary has said she wants ‘stronger enforcement’ on the other side of the Channel and has been trying to persuade the French government to allow migrant boats to be turned back. 

She said last year that a previous deal with the French would make crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this spring.

It came as an inquiry was launched into the crisis by the Commons all-party home affairs committee.

MPs will begin their investigation when Parliament returns at the start of September.

A committee spokesman said: ‘The inquiry will look at the role of criminal gangs in facilitating the growth of this form of illegal immigration and the response of UK and French authorities to combat illegal migration and support legal routes to asylum.’

Three migrants are rescued from sinking £300 inflatable kayak by builder on his way back to Britain after he swam from Dover to Calais for charity  

Three migrants were rescued from their sinking inflatable kayak by a builder on his way home to Britain after swimming from Dover to Calais for charity yesterday.

Justin Legge, 49, started the 21-mile journey at 1.30am, raising almost £24,000 in memory of a friend who died of leukaemia.

He was on his way back across the Channel in a small passenger boat when he spotted three young men stuffed on to a tiny inflatable blue and white two-person Sevylor Wabash canoe-kayak which was sinking around 3.30pm.

The migrants’ inflatable kayak, which sells for £299.99 on Decathlon’s website, was brought in by the Border Force vessel Hunter.

It comes after it was reported authorities were involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning. 

Justin Legge, 49, was on his way back across the Channel in a small passenger boat when he spotted three young men stuffed on to a tiny inflatable blue and white two-person Sevylor Wabash canoe-kayak which was sinking around 3.30pm

Justin Legge, 49, was on his way back across the Channel in a small passenger boat when he spotted three young men stuffed on to a tiny inflatable blue and white two-person Sevylor Wabash canoe-kayak which was sinking around 3.30pm

The boys were taken on board the small passenger vessel after their inflatable kayak started sinking in the English Channel

The boys were taken on board the small passenger vessel after their inflatable kayak started sinking in the English Channel

A baby, a heavily-pregnant woman and young children were among the migrants to land on Kent beach yesterday as smugglers tell them to make dangerous Channel crossing before Brexit ‘closes the door’. 

The migrants spotted by Justin were using their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover.

The pilot of Justin’s boat gave them water and face masks before taking them in.

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for the boat, but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm.

Father-of-two Justin, from the village of Bridge near Canterbury, Kent, said: ‘I’ve just swam the Channel and I’m absolutely knackered.

‘Then we saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking.

‘We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned.

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for the boat, but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for the boat, but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm

The pilot of Justin's boat gave them water and face masks before taking them in to save them from drowning

The pilot of Justin’s boat gave them water and face masks before taking them in to save them from drowning

The migrants spotted by Justin were using their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover

The migrants spotted by Justin were using their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover

It comes after it was reported authorities were involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning

It comes after it was reported authorities were involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning 

The migrants' inflatable kayak, which sells for £299.99 on Decathlon's website, was brought in by the Border Force vessel Hunter

The migrants’ inflatable kayak, which sells for £299.99 on Decathlon’s website, was brought in by the Border Force vessel Hunter

‘They were a really long way out – around 10 miles. So he phoned the authorities and brought them back in. They’re lucky to still be alive.

‘The three of them sat on the edge of the boat for the rest of the ride back.

‘One of the guys was watching them but they just sat there quietly and looked a bit embarrassed.

‘It was very strange. I know these sorts of crossings are a daily occurrence now but I never thought I’d see something like that first hand.’

His wedding planner wife Charlotte, 35, was also on the boat.

She said: ‘We were halfway across the Channel and our pilot spotted them.

‘They’re constantly looking for migrants and he noticed they were waving the flag of distress.

Father-of-two Justin, says: 'We saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking. We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned'

Father-of-two Justin, says: ‘We saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking. We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned’

The migrants used their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover

The migrants used their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover

‘He rang the Coastguard and they said he had a duty of care to stay by them until they were rescued.

‘But while we were giving them water, we noticed they were going down.

‘The Coastguard were nowhere to be seen so the pilot put them on the end of the boat, gave them masks and gloves, and towed their boat back to shore.

‘The pilot was quite concerned because they kept trying to get back into their boat but they had what looked like brand new trainers in there so maybe they just wanted to save them.

‘All three of them just sat there quietly and looked quite tired. They all looked really young. Probably aged between 18 and 21.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.