“I’ve got a French warship in the west escorting a boatload of migrants!” In scathing radio messages from the English ship’s captain, the French navy is accused of ‘illegal human trafficking’ to Dover

The captain of an English freighter has accused the French navy of ‘illegally smuggling immigrant boats’ across the Channel to Dover.

In scathing radio messages, the angry senior officer complained to the French coastguard when his ship, Scot Pioneer, was stopped from entering Dunkirk harbor because naval vessels, including a warship, diverted traders’ boats around his ship.

In response, the coastguard informed him that there was an ‘arrangement’ between the governments of London and Paris under which the French navy would escort migrant boats to Britain.

The captain begins his protest by alerting the French coast guard, saying: ‘I would like to report what constitutes an illegal operation in your waters.

‘This morning we witnessed a French Government ship and a French Navy warship escort a boatload of illegal immigrants across the Channel to the halfway point, where they handed them over to another (Border Force) ship leaving Dover . That’s where it has now arrived.

File image shows a police officer on a beach in northern France during the departure of a boat carrying migrants trying to illegally cross the English Channel to reach Britain

File image shows the French Navy's Cormoran Flamant-class patrol vessel sailing near the port of Calais, northern France, in 2023

File image shows the French Navy’s Cormoran Flamant-class patrol vessel sailing near the port of Calais, northern France, in 2023

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‘Now I see the French warship passing under my stern and another boatload of immigrants passing across the Channel. There is also another (French) ship to the west of us escorting a third boat with migrants.

“This is not a search and rescue – this is illegal human trafficking.”

A fisherman in British waters who picked up the open-channel footage told the Mail: ‘This captain witnessed first-hand the French Navy escorting dinghies to waiting British Border Police vessels.’

At the end of March, a record number of 5,000 people in 100 small boats reached the UK from France.

A government spokesperson said: ‘The unacceptable number of people continuing to cross the Channel shows exactly why we need to get flights to Rwanda up and running as quickly as possible.

‘We are working with France in the English Channel to ensure people are recovered as safely as possible. Thanks to our successful collaboration, the number of arrivals fell by more than a third last year.’

Staff at Scotline, the company that owns the Pioneer Scot, declined to name the captain.