Body found in Channel 'not linked to migrant crossings'

12 September 2021, 15:24 | Updated: 12 September 2021, 16:46

The body was recovered by the RNLI with the Coastguard
The body was recovered by the RNLI with the Coastguard. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The body of a man that was recovered from the Channel is not thought to be connected with migrant crossings.

The RNLI took the body – thought to be that of a man aged between 30 and 50 – from the sea.

The body is thought to have been in the water for several weeks.

The man's body was found mid Channel after being sighted by a passing vessel and was taken to Eastbourne by the RNLI working with HM Coastguard.

Sussex Police said on Sunday it does not believe there is a link to the small boat crossings, which have seen migrants make the risky trip from France across to the UK throughout the summer.

The force said: "There are currently no suspicious circumstances and a post-mortem will be arranged.

"There is currently no evidence that this death is linked to migrant crossings."

An inquiry is under way.

An RNLI spokesperson said: "I can confirm that at 13:40 yesterday our Eastbourne RNLI crew were tasked by the coastguard following reports of a body in the water about 14 miles south of Eastbourne.

"The station’s All Weather Lifeboat was launched and alongside the coastguard helicopter, the crew recovered the body to the harbour.

The spokesperson added: "We’d like to pass our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased."

LBC has approached the Coastguard for comment.

There had been speculation that the body recovered from the English Channel might be linked to the high numbers of migrants attempting to cross from France.

Record numbers have attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats in recent months.

On Monday alone, over 1,000 journeys were attempted, something Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney called "unacceptable and dangerous".

Read more: Coastguard pulls man's body from English Channel

Read more: 'Armoured jet skis to be used by Border Force' to spin back migrant boats

Priti Patel has reportedly authorised plans for armoured jet skis to spin migrant boats attempting to cross the channel around mid-crossing.

The Home Secretary has reportedly overseen the final stages of a Border Force training programme which sees officers physically rotate boats in the channel.

The manoeuvre requires two jet skis, with one pushing the boat from its bow, and a second nudging the stern, to spin it around.

Under the plans, reported by The Sun, the jet skis would then escort the boat back to French waters under the assumption that migrants with no sailing expertise will not be able to turn it back towards the UK.

Former Navy chief Admiral Lord West said the strategy could be dangerous, especially if sea conditions were not calm or if those on board did not cooperate with Border Force officers.

"It's an accident waiting to happen," he said.

"It's not clever and it is problematic."

Read more: France and UK clash over ‘dangerous and illegal' plans to block migrant crossings

Read more: 'Extreme, illegal, cowardly': Patel's 'pushback' tactics for migrant boats condemned

A Home Office spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the plans, saying they were continuing to "explore all options available" to bring the number of migrant crossings down.

"Our primary focus is on preventing people from entering the Channel, tackling the criminal gangs responsible and protecting lives," the spokesperson went on.

"As part of our ongoing operational response, we continue to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options for stopping small boats.

"All operational procedures used at sea comply and are delivered in accordance with domestic and international law.

"We will fix the broken asylum system through our New Plan for Immigration, break the business model of people smugglers who put lives at risk and welcome people through safe and legal routes and as agreed at G7 we continue to cooperate with our international partners."