Home Secretary commends LBC investigation after 'disgusting' people smuggler is jailed

9 April 2021, 09:54 | Updated: 9 April 2021, 15:11

By Fiona Jones

Home Secretary Priti Patel commends LBC for its role in the jailing of a "disgusting" and prolific people smuggler after a major undercover investigation.

The smuggler has received the longest sentence handed down in a joint UK/France anti-smuggling operation involving small boats, the Home Office has confirmed.

It came after LBC launched its most comprehensive investigation into the people smuggling gangs which bring migrants across the Channel from Northern France to the UK.

Read more: LBC investigation sees prolific people smuggler jailed and banned from France

One of the many gang leaders profiting from this was 'Farooq', and in autumn 2019 LBC's undercover reporter tracked him down to his camp in the Dunkirk woodland and pretended to be an asylum seeker, looking to cross to England.

After gaining evidence and being confronted in a further meeting by LBC's Rachael Venables, LBC passed this evidence to the Home Office.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told LBC: "I'd like to commend the work of LBC for being an important part in this investigation."

Read more: LBC uncovers major people smuggling ring bringing migrants across Channel to UK

"I can say to your listeners as of today, even over the last twelve months we've had over 10 people smugglers be put in prison - this is the scale of the activity that has taken place."

Read more: "How I Infiltrated One Of The Biggest People Smuggling Rings In Northern France"

"We have a lot of intensive [joint] work that takes place with the French authorities...it's our combined intelligence and information that comes together to effectively put together the prosecution pathways, and the cases and the evidential base against many of these awful individuals."

These criminals prey on asylum seekers desperate to complete their perilous journeys; they often charge adults and children thousands of pounds to board overcrowded boats and life-rafts, push them out to sea and tell them to aim for Dover.

Ms Patel branded 'Farooq' and others like him as "crooks", adding, "They're disgusting individuals. They're absolutely inhumane in the way they facilitate these crossings."

The Home Secretary told LBC she is committed to "wiping out" this crime, which is why her new immigration plan is "targeting the crooks and the criminals that don't care about human lives."

She pledged to change sentences, laws and policies to ensure these individuals serve a full sentence once they are "tracked down."

"I will also create the right pathways for those that need asylum, that are fleeing persecution and hardship so that they can legitimately come to the UK...and not be used as pawns by these awful, despicable people," she said.

Ms Patel branded the current system for dealing with illegal immigration as "fundamentally broken" and said she will continue to work with her counterparts in other countries to transform this.

"Collectively we must do more to work together...we can't turn a blind eye," she said.

Read more: People Smuggling: Undercover Reporter Visits UK Money Agent Who Collects £7k Per Migrant