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Saturday
13  July

“I thought it was the right thing to do!”

 
18/06/2024 @ 09:16

 


A Welshpool businessman who immediately reported two illegal immigrants hidden in his campervan on a cross channel ferry said he has been made to feel like the criminal after being fined £3,000 for people smuggling!

In what appears to be one of the most bizarre stories we have covered, Mike Vaughan said he was absolutely stunned to be fined after “I thought I did the right thing”.

Mr Vaughan had been in France for a month watching Wales at the Rugby World Cup before taking the six-hour ferry from Caen to Portsmouth on his way home last October.

He parked up his campervan in the hull before heading up to the deck, which all drivers have to do, leaving his vehicle unattended.

On his return, he was disgusted to find his toilet had been used so carefully conducted a search of his vehicle.

“I lifted the seat cover up and saw a little fella hiding,” Mike explained. “I told him to stay where he was then carried on searching and found a second.

“They had gained access whilst we had been sailing by breaking a small window.”

Mike immediately alerted Brittany Ferries who sent security guards to his vehicle, and Border Force guards were dispatched on arrival in Portsmouth.

“There were two or three cars of officers and a van,” said Mike. “We went to the immigration zone where they took photographs of everything, and then started questioning me. One of the officers said to me: ‘It’s a good job you found them or you would have been fined’. I thought he was joking. They told me it was a daily occurrence and they would be in touch.

“I didn’t really think about it again, but I was sent notice of a statutory fine of £3,000 - £1,500 per illegal immigrant – that I have to pay, and have been given a chance to appeal by July 2!

“It’s unbelievable. I thought I had done the right thing by reporting it immediately, but now I am being made to feel like the criminal!”

But in another twist to the story, Mr Vaughan, who has paperwork from Brittany Ferries admitting the immigrants broke in whilst on board, says he can’t find a local legal firm to support his appeal having tried two in Welshpool and one in Newtown.

He said he will fight it all the way.

Our research shows that the law on being caught with illegal immigrants is extremely harsh, with lorry drivers, and other drivers, facing the big fines for 'not securing their vehicles properly'.

But Mr Vaughan wants his case made public to also act as a warning for anyone driving across the channel this summer.

“There is literally nothing I could have done to stop it,” he said. “My campervan was cleared boarding the ferry. I had to leave it as you are not allowed to stay with your vehicle. It was during this time that the pair broke in by smashing a back window. I caught them, and reported them immediately. I hadn’t driven an inch with them inside. Not even started the engine!”

We have dropped the Home Office a line to enquire about Mr Vaughan’s case, but the best UK Government guidance that we could find – which is mainly geared towards lorry drivers -  can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/clandestine-entrant-civil-penalty-scheme.