French coastguard could face criminal charges after 'leaving 27 migrants to drown'

23 November 2022, 08:47 | Updated: 23 November 2022, 08:52

Border Force Rescue Asylum Seekers In The English Channel
Around 42,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats this year. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

By James Hockaday

French coastguards could be held criminally liable for allegedly ignoring 27 migrants, including children, who drowned crossing the Channel.

Authorities are accused of ignoring as many as 15 calls for help while also neglecting to pass a warning to their British counterparts.

One coastguard member is accused of saying "I didn't ask you to set off" after the line went dead during a call with a drowning man.

The shocking claims are part of a French police report leaked to newspaper Le Monde, detailing a disaster in November 2021, which saw a dinghy deflate after leaving the coast of France for the UK.

Out of the 34 passengers, 17 men, seven women (one of whom was pregnant), and three children died. Five are still missing and two survived the ordeal.

Read more: 'Years after Brexit, we still don't have truthful conversations on immigration': Shelagh Fogarty

Suella Braverman visits Dover
Authorities on both sides of the Channel were accused of wasting precious time. Picture: Getty Images. Picture: Getty

It is alleged that French authorities mistakenly thought the migrants were already in British waters when they were calling for help, and so didn't venture out to assist them.

When one man called rescuers to say he was "in the water", a French operator allegedly told him: "Yes, but you are in English waters."

As she attempted to transfer the call to Dover, the line cut off, and the operator allegedly uttered: "Ah, so you can’t hear. You won’t be saved. Your feet are in the water, well… I didn’t ask you to set off."

Several calls were made to coastguards on both sides of the Channel, with the first to France's Cross Gris-Nez regional office made at around 2am.

The leaked police report claims British authorities asked the French to send boats because it was closer, but this was not carried out.

Read more: Manston Asylum Centre is now completely empty after migrants placed in new accommodation

Refugees In Calais
French police have been removing refugees from a temporary camp, a few hundred meters from the old 'jungle' of Calais. Picture: Getty Images. Picture: Getty

It also alleges that French officials told a nearby tanker not to intervene to save people on the dinghy because a ship was on the way, which wasn't true.

According to the report, authorities in France could face criminal charges of ‘failing to help people in danger’ over the incident.

It wasn't until the following afternoon that a fishing boat came across the dead bodies floating in the sea. New evidence of the treacherous journey were also revealed in an ITV documentary, The Crossing.

The programme claims both British and French authorities wasted crucial hours passing the buck over whose responsibility it was to save these people.

Read more: Itsu founder's stark warning on future of eating out unless migrants are given working visas

The leaked French police report recommended investigations into the local Regional Maritime Surveillance and Rescue Operational Centre.

Around 42,000 migrants have made the perilous journey across the Channel to the UK so far this year, despite the law changing in June, making it an offence to arrive in British waters without permission, even to claim asylum.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is trying to revive a plan to deport people who've arrived in this way, which has been stalled by the European Court of Human Rights.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reached a plea deal.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to US after reaching plea deal

Princess Anne is reportedly unable to remember what happened due to the nature of the injury.

Princess Anne ‘unable to recall exactly what happened’ after being ‘hit by horse’ as she faces several days in hospital

England have qualified for the last 16 at Euro 2024.

England qualify for last 16 at Euro 2024 after Spain beat Albania

Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK.

UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

Labour has made cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' should the party come to power

Labour makes cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' as Starmer proposes new child criminal exploitation offence

Spanish police are investigating if Jay's 'background' is relevant to the disappearance.

Spanish police searching for Jay Slater investigate if teenager’s background is ‘relevant’ to his disappearance

Lord Kinnock has said he would not wish being part of the current Tory government on his 'most bloodthirsty enemies'.

‘I wish I was fighting this lot’, ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock says as he brands current Tory party 'superficial'

The president of Finland has said he 'doesn't agree with many things' Nigel Farage says in response to his comments on the war in Ukraine.

'Absolutely not': Finland's president dismisses Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia's war in Ukraine

A man went missing in the water off Bournemouth beach (file image)

Huge search operation launched for man missing in water off Bournemouth beach

Bosses face £1,000 fine for letting employees watch England's Euros clash with Denmark in the office

Offices showing England v Slovenia Euros clash could face hefty £1,000 fine

Princess Anne has been injured by a horse

King Charles sends 'fondest love’ to Princess Anne who will ‘quickly bounce back’ after being hit by horse

Callum the stag was "humanely euthanised".

Tourists blamed for death of 'legendary' stag after it was fed Rice Krispies and croissants

The Reform UK leader's comments came as he spoke to supporters at a rally in Kent on Tuesday, slamming the current government's ability to control immigration.

Farage warns of Channel migrant 'invasion' from countries 'with terrorism, gang culture and war zones'

Gavin Plumb is accused of plotting to kidnap Holly Willoughby

Obsessed security guard ‘plotted to keep Holly Willoughby in dungeon where screams couldn't be heard for miles'

At least two people have died in the fire

At least two dead as Moscow defence research centre bursts into flames ‘with staff trapped inside’

Parisians along River Seine, below Cathedral Notre Dame celebrate Fête de la Musique - annual city-wide music festival each June

British woman 'gang-raped in Paris at music festival'