RNLI lifeboat 'blocked from going to rescue migrants by angry fishermen'

·3 min read
The Hastings Shannon Class lifeboat heads out to sea during a training exercise in Hastings, East Sussex.
The RNLI Hastings lifeboat heads out to sea during a training exercise. (File photo: PA)

A group of angry fishermen blocked a lifeboat from going to sea to rescue migrants crossing the English Channel, it has been claimed.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) told Yahoo News UK it has made a report to police following the alleged incident on Saturday, 20 November.

Sussex Police said an officer had attended the scene but no arrests were made.

Last Wednesday, 27 people drowned while trying to cross the Channel from France to England, the deadliest crossing on record. 

Watch: Boris Johnson 'shocked and appalled' by migrants' deaths

Read more: Migrants risk dangerous journey to UK despite 27 deaths

On Tuesday, a caller to LBC Radio said she witnessed fishermen blocking an RNLI lifeboat on Hastings beach from going on a call the previous Saturday.

The caller, Zoe, told presenter James O’Brien she heard the fishermen shouting, “Don’t bring any more of those home, we’re full up”.

The RNLI charity confirmed it had reported the incident to police, but that the lifeboat had been able to launch.

The RNLI lifeboat station in Hastings, Sussex. Picture date: Wednesday May 12, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story . Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The RNLI lifeboat station in Hastings, Sussex. (PA)

An RNLI spokesman told Yahoo News UK: “We can confirm an incident was reported to the police. 

“The lifeboat was able to launch and the station remains on service.”

Zoe told LBC Radio: “On Saturday, my boyfriend and I were just on the beach and we heard the lifeboat station opening up and thought, ‘Oh they have a call’, and started watching.

“There was a group of fisherman pulled up, gutting fish on the shore, and as the boat station opened up we heard the fisherman start shouting things like ‘Don't bring any more of those home, we're full up', ‘That's why we stopped our donations', and that kind of really horrible stuff.

"It was really upsetting and you could hear the hatred in their voice.”

She said fishermen “deliberately came out with their buckets and stood directly in the line” of the lifeboat as its rescue crew tried to take it into the water.

A spokesman for Sussex Police told Yahoo News UK: “Just after 4pm on Saturday, 20 November, police were made aware of reports of a disturbance near to the Hastings RNLI Lifeboat Station. 

“A police officer attended the scene while also being supported by colleagues monitoring the situation on CCTV. No arrests were made.”

On Tuesday, it emerged that France will put forward proposals for tackling the issue of migrants crossing the Channel.

The RNLI lifeboat station in Hastings, Sussex. Picture date: Wednesday May 12, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story . Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The RNLI said it had reported an incident involving its Hastings lifeboat to police. (PA)
The Hastings Shannon Class lifeboat is washed down by crew members following a training exercise in Hastings, East Sussex.
The RNLI Hastings lifeboat was blocked by fishermen from going on a call, it has been alleged. (PA)

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said prime minister Jean Castex will be writing to British prime minister Boris Johnson with proposals for a “balanced agreement” between the UK and the EU.

He said discussions could take place “very quickly” if the British are prepared to enter negotiations in a “serious spirit”.

The two countries have been mired in a diplomatic row after the capsize last week of a migrant boat which led to 27 deaths.

Read more: France calls on Britain to do more on Channel migrant trafficking

Among those who drowned were 17 men, seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children.

French president Emmanuel Macron said there have been 47,000 attempted Channel crossings this year and 7,800 migrants rescued.

Johnson had angered Macron by posting a letter on Twitter calling for joint patrols on French beaches and the return to France of migrants who succeed in making the dangerous crossing.

Macron said it was not a serious way to negotiate, while home secretary Priti Patel was disinvited from a meeting in Calais on Sunday of ministers from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to discuss the crisis.

But Darmanin said the two countries needed to work together to deal with a shared problem.

Watch: French president surprised by Boris Johnson migrants proposal

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