The Home Office has promised to launch an investigation following the most damning evidence yet of Border Force collusion with the French to intercept migrants’ flimsy crafts before bringing them over to Britain as the number of illegals trying to cross the Channel skyrockets.
The Daily Mail has released an audio clip in which an officer aboard HMC Valiant asks a counterpart permission to enter French waters and bring aboard yet another boat-load of migrants.
The exchange was conducted over open frequencies and captured by a south coast sailor.
On Saturday afternoon of last week, a Border Force officer can be heard saying: “The difficulty we have is the vessel is in your waters, and we cannot come into your waters to take the vessel.”
He later asks: “Would you have a problem if we put our boarding boat into the water near the vessel, however, we will just escort it towards UK waters?”
He is then given permission by the French officer. The ship tracker service shows Valiant then crossed the line before dispatching a fast inflatable to pick up the illegals. Most troublingly, at no point in the lengthy comms with the French officer is it suggested the migrant vessel is in trouble, it is merely moving slowly and therefore not a distress issue that might have necessitated an emergency response.
Even then, with the French tracking the migrants it would have been incumbent on their patrol boat, Athos, to launch a rescue mission. The fact that at no stage do the French seem remotely inclined to intercept the migrants and bring them back – which they are expected to do under a multi-million-pound arrangement funded by the UK taxpayer – strongly suggests operations have completely collapsed.
“The job of Border Force is to secure the UK’s border, not facilitate illegal entry across it,” said a government source last night. Priti Patel is reported to have ordered an investigation, insisting this “should not have happened”.
However, trust in the home secretary is waning fast. The bumper bank holiday weekend saw more than 500 migrants arrive on these shores as witness accounts began to surface of Border Force actively supporting crossing attempts. At this rate, the number of crossings will exceed 18,000 before the year is out. Last year, it was less than 9,000. A massive escalation has long been underway, but the home secretary has done little to counter it.
Nigel Farage let rip on the airwaves yesterday, telling Julia Hartley-Brewer: “One of the truths here that Priti Patel will not confront is that unless we deal with the Human Rights Act, we have got a very big problem in returning anybody to France.
“And yet she never comes clean about it, makes an endless series of statements, gets up at the Tory party conference and talks tough. At the moment, she’s proving to be one of the worst home secretaries ever.”
The sailor who picked up the discussion over the radio told the Mail: “We know the French are escorting migrant boats towards the UK instead of turning them back to France. But this is the first time I have heard of British Border Force collecting migrants on the French side of the Channel.
“I have suspected it going on for some time, but the radio message that I happened to overhear on an public channel proves it.
“The French patrol boat captain makes clear the migrants are not in peril at sea. They were travelling slowly towards the UK where they would have been collected by UK Border Force vessels in English waters.
“I worry that Valiant may have gone into French waters in a hurry to save time on a day when more than 100 migrants were heading from France to Dover. I am sure Border Force were overwhelmed.”