HGV driver fights an £8,000 fine after 16 illegal immigrants smuggle themselves into his lorry
PUBLISHED: 08:41 06 September 2014 | UPDATED: 08:41 06 September 2014
A lorry driver is challenging an £8,000 fine given to him after 16 illegal immigrants climbed into the back of his HGV in a bid to get to Britain as he slept in a parking bay near Boulogne.
Ray Taylor has called on the help of MP Steve Barclay to help fight the fine given to him, plus a £9,000 fine given to the firm he works for, saying he is an innocent victim in what is becoming a growing problem for lorry drivers as they approach the port of Calais.
Mr Taylor, 49, of The Elms, Chatteris, said: “I woke in the morning and checked over the lorry with a torch. I got up on the gantry and everything seemed in order.
“The straps hadn’t been tampered with so everything looked OK. It turned out the tarpaulin had been cut at the top in an L shape. The men climbed in and then stitched it from the inside so I couldn’t see anything wrong with my lorry.
“They must have sat all night on top of my load - 28 tonnes of milling wheat. That wheat is worth about £400 a tone and has been condemned, so between myself as driver and my firm, we have been hit for thousands of pounds and none of it is our fault.”
Mr Taylor, who has driven lorries for 23 years, parked his 44-tonne tipper HGV at a Total Garage bay at Boulogne on his way back from a run to the south of France.
He slept overnight before checking his truck and driving to Calais to take the Channel Tunnel back to Britain.
Border guards searched the lorry, which is when the men, thought to be from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Eritrea in Africa, were discovered, and he was warned he faced a fine of up to £2,000 per person.
Meanwhile the immigrants were dropped back at the point where they picked up the lorry.
Mr Taylor, who works for KGB at Tilney St Lawrence, which transports crops across the UK and abroad, said: “In 23 years of driving this is the first problem I’ve had.
“I’ve since heard lorry drivers should avoid stopping within 200km of Calais. I’ve heard of drivers being attacked with baseball bats. It’s out of hand.
“I’m sticking to UK driving now. I don’t want this hassle.”
His boss, Ken Brown of KGB, said it was the first problem they had encountered in 43 years of trading.
Mr Brown said: “We are appealing on behalf of the company and Ray. Immigrants stowing themselves away is all over the news. It’s a huge problem and the hauliers are left holding the baby.”
North East Cambridgeshire MP Mr Barclay said: “I’m very concerned to hear this driver and business has been hit so severely. I’m going to be asking if this route was subject to body scanning machines.
“I accept lorry drivers have restrictions but border controls have responsibilities too.”
A spokesman for the Road Haulage Association said: “There are Home Office guidelines that say company’s need procedures in place for drivers to check lorries, but there’s problems checking the roof for health and safety reasons.
“It’s got extremely bad over the last few months. Illegal immigrants are running riot.”