Shropshire

Telford haulier appeals over migrants on board fine

Calais migrants
Image caption Lorry drivers can be fined £2,000 for each unauthorised person found in their vehicles when crossing into the UK

A haulier who faces a £10,000 fine after five migrants were found on his lorry has called for more help for drivers around the Channel Tunnel.

Jim Rushton, from Telford, was issued with the penalty following the discovery of stowaways on his vehicle after he left Calais on 12 January.

He is appealing, saying he did all he could to secure his vehicle.

Telford MP Lucy Allan has backed his case, which is being considered by the Home Office.

Mr Rushton warned hauliers were having to begin journeys further away from Calais because of the risks of people trying to board lorries when drivers were sleeping or refuelling.

"We try to protect our vehicles and ourselves, but what chance do we have when there are four or five of them?" he said.

Lorry driver fines

£2,000

Maximum fine a driver faces for each unauthorised person found in their vehicle

  • 3,319 Fines served in 2014-15, up from 998 in 2012-13

  • 7% Of all drivers fined in 2013-14 were British

  • 1 in 3 Lorries entering the UK are believed to have lower than "basic standards of security"

BBC

Hauliers undergo training to help them secure their lorries, and have to go through checkpoints that can detect the heartbeat of anyone inside the back of their vehicles.

Mr Rushton said he had completed all the security checks before he re-entered the UK.

"We're basically just doing a job, and we're getting penalised for it through no fault of our own," he said.

Jack Semple, director of policy for the Road Haulage Association, said drivers were avoiding Calais due to the increasing dangers, causing traffic problems at other ports.

He called for the French and UK governments to "find a solution" to the "extremely difficult" conditions.

"It's a serious problem for drivers, migrants and the economy," he said.

"We support the Border Force's work, but it isn't perfect, and if someone has done all they can [to secure their vehicles] they should not be fined."

Image copyright Lucy Allan MP
Image caption Telford MP Lucy Allan (left) is backing Jim Rushton (centre) in his bid to quash his £10,000 fine

Ms Allan's office confirmed she has written to the home secretary to highlight the case.

A Home Office spokesman said the fines were to ensure drivers were "taking reasonable measures" to secure their vehicles.

While not discussing Mr Rushton's case, the spokesman said: "Drivers and haulage companies who can show they have taken appropriate steps as set out in the codes of practice will not receive a penalty."

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