02 AUG 2010

"Life saving" Norfolkline workers thanked during top MP's visit

This week I welcomed Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP to the Port of Dover. I invited Keith, the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee to come to meet Dover's border guardians and meet two very special Norfolkline workers who were responsible for saving the lives of human trafficking victims in June.

I was delighted to welcome Keith to Dover. I was very keen to show him the excellent work that our border guardians perform to keep our border here at Dover secure. I was particularly pleased to meet Diane and Paul who deserve thanks and praise for their swift action, which saved lives.

A former Minister in the previous Government, Keith's powerful Committee in Parliament oversees border security and immigration issues. The visit provided me with an opportunity to showcase the achievements of local staff and the challenges of day to day operations. The visit's programme included a tour of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) freight and tourist controls in Dover, a Channel crossing and inspection of UKBA's immigration controls in Calais.

I requested a visit to Norfolkline, so Keith and I could meet Diane Fulton and Paul Spain, two Norfolk Line employees who discovered a group of Afghans being trafficked in the back of a lorry in late June. The seventeen men and boys were discovered seriously ill in the back of an articulated lorry and one was taken to Hospital to receive treatment.

Andreas Teschl, Norfolkline's Vice President for the English Channel said: "We are very proud of Diane and Paul. I am delighted that their rapid reaction prevented a tragedy and their work has been recognised by Dover's MP and Mr Vaz."

This visit is a great opportunity to show Keith the very real problems of human trafficking and illegal immigration that we encounter in Dover. The more we can co operate with France to strengthen border operations, the better. The British frontline border guardians in Dover make superhuman efforts to scan lorries to find contraband and trafficked people.

Keith said: "I would like to congratulate local MP Charlie Elphicke for his continued support of the frontline workers who fight everyday to ensure the security of our borders. Border security must remain a priority for the Government and the implementation of UKBA operations in both Calais and Dover is essential for this aim. Investment in up to date scanners and co-operation with the French authorities is the only way we can even begin to combat the illegal trafficking of both goods and people." 

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Charlie Elphicke

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