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Home Office investigating reports HMS Valiant entered French waters to recover Asylum Seekers

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The Home Office is said to be “urgently investigating” reports a border force boat entered French waters to pick up a dinghy of asylum seekers.

Crews on the HMS Valiant were recorded arranging the pick-up with a French patrol ship in the channel last week before escorting the boat back to Dover.

A Border Force cutter reportedly entered French waters last week. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
A Border Force cutter reportedly entered French waters last week. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

Both British and French authorities are said to be attempting to curb the numbers of small boat crossings in the Channel.

A fresh agreement between the UK and France was drawn up last year, which saw the number of police patrolling the French coastline double in size.

However, attempts on behalf of Priti Patel to ask her European counterpart Gerald Darmanin to ensure the country would stop small boats in their waters were unsuccessful.

The French navy will come to the aid of any boat that is in distress; there is no indication that the small boat in this incident was struggling.

In the recordings, which were shared by the Daily Mail this morning, an officer aboard the Valiant can be heard asking permission to enter French waters to pick up the boat.

The number of attempted crossings has continued to rise. Photo: Chris Johnson
The number of attempted crossings has continued to rise. Photo: Chris Johnson

He said: “The difficulty we have is the vessel is in your waters, and we cannot come into your waters to take the vessel.

“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?”

An officer on the French patrol boat Athos then responds by saying “we give you legality to do this, no problem”.

The Valiant – a 140ft cutter – then crossed into French waters and sent a dinghy to recover the oncoming asylum seekers.

The Home Secretary has repeatedly spoken of her desire to curb the small boat crossings, however numbers are continuing to increase as the good weather on the coasts holds.

When contacted by KentOnline, a Home Office spokesman spoke only to say: “We are urgently investigating the circumstances behind this incident.”

For information on why Asylum Seekers are attempting to cross the channel, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Dover Folkestone Kent News Alex Jee



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