Thursday, February 29, 2024

Where are they? Home Office remains silent on location of two migrant men who stowed away in luggage hold of coach carrying children back to UK from school trip in France

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The Home Office has remained silent on the location of two migrant men who were found in the luggage hold of a school coach returning from a trip to France.

Parents were left stunned after two men, thought to be in their early 20s, were found lying inside the hold as the bus arrived back to Hounsdown School in Southampton, Hampshire, on Saturday evening.

One of the suspected migrants attempted to run off as the door was opened, but was stopped by parents waiting to pick up their children. One child’s luggage was reportedly left ‘crumpled’ and covered in urine.

Police were called to the incident but so far not arrests have been made. A spokesman said they were ‘possibly illegal immigrants’, but the Home Office has so far refused to clarify whether the two men have been detained or where they are. 

One mother said she went into ‘panic mode’ and said ‘excusez moi’ to one of the men so she could reach past to get her child’s bag.

Another said: ‘My daughter came running over and she said “there’s people sat in where the suitcases are”. She added: ‘Obviously it’s quite concerning because there were 36 children on the coach and no one was aware that they were there’

Student Scarlett Quinn told ITV she was shocked when she realised someone was in amongst the luggage, and said he seemed ‘comfy’.

A school bus returned to Hounsdown School in Southampton on Saturday but found two unexpected passengers hiding with the luggage below

Pictured is Hounsdown School, where the pupils returned after their trip to France

Pictured is Hounsdown School, where the pupils returned after their trip to France

The coach had been carrying Year 9 and 10 pupils who had just come back from a three-day school trip visiting Boulogne University, about 20 miles south of Calais.

The teachers and pupils had travelled home via the Eurotunnel at Calais, returning to Totton, near Southampton, on Saturday evening.

Quinn added: ‘We got off the bus and the compartment was opened…then I see a man sat in the bottom.

‘He was really calm, he was just sat staring at us and he seemed pretty comfy. Me and my friend were like “oh my god, there’s someone sat in there”. 

She said that she saw their legs and then ‘ran over to my mum’, adding ‘it was all just a bit of a shock really’. 

One mother described the incident as ‘horrendous’, and it was said that one of the men tried to run off but was stopped by parents.

Their journey so far… 

The pupils had just come back from a three-day school trip visiting Boulogne University about 20 miles south of Calais.

The teachers and pupils had travelled home via the Eurotunnel at Calais, returning to Totton, near Southampton, on Saturday evening.

But it is unclear at what point the French-speaking migrants boarded the coach.

Parents at the school claim one of the men tried to run away.

Hampshire Police confirmed no arrests have been made.

As yet, the Home Office has refused to clarify whether the men have been detained, and their whereabouts has not been confirmed.

Describing the moment the men were found, the mother said: ‘[My son’s] luggage was covered in urine and his belongings crumpled by one of the men being on top of it.

‘I asked them (in French) if they spoke English or French and they replied French, I was about to ask them where they’d come from but got ushered away by the teachers.’

Following the discovery, she panicked and her only thought was to grab her 14-year-old son’s baggage from the coach.

She said: ‘The only way I can describe it is panic mode.

‘My one aim was to get my child off the bus, and once I had I went back as I couldn’t handle seeing kids being asked to take their baggage out of the hold.

‘I just said “excuse-moi” to the gent and leaned over him to get the rest of the bags out as my son’s was tucked underneath him.’ 

Posting on social media, another parent said: ‘Just picked my daughter up from her school trip to France. The coach driver opened up the bottom to get the suitcases and found three immigrants sat in there.’

Several parents who saw the incident have told of their shock.

‘They looked completely fine and comfy,’ one said on social media.

‘Not being funny but I’m angry about it. They got access to a coach carrying school children.

‘It’s one thing to get in a lorry but a very different thing to manage to get in to a coach without being seen.’

He added: ‘Was an absolute shocker to see a person sat there as the kids went forward to get their bags.’

Another parent said: ‘My son is so upset bless him, he’s told me to cancel him going away next year with the school and has said he’d rather wait until he can pay to go when he’s older.

‘The teachers couldn’t have done a better job the whole way through, I really do feel for them right now.’

Another mother, Tabi, told the BBC: ‘My daughter came running over and she said ‘there’s people sat in where the suitcases are’.

‘Obviously it’s quite concerning because there were 36 children on the coach and no one was aware that they were there.

‘I understand these immigrants are wanting a better life but it’s not very good targeting a coach full of children.’ 

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: ‘We were called just before 5.15pm on Saturday 10 February to reports that two people, who were possibly illegal immigrants, had been found at Hounsdown School in Totton. Officers have attended. No arrests have been made.’

MailOnline has contacted Hounsdown School for comment. 

Under Rishi Sunak's Rwanda plan, which has yet to be carried out, asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in small, inflatable boats would be sent on planes to Rwanda

Under Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan, which has yet to be carried out, asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in small, inflatable boats would be sent on planes to Rwanda

The Border Force vessel Typhoon carrying migrants arrives at Dover docks today. One picture showed a migrant wrapped in a foil blanket being pushed in a wheelchair

The Border Force vessel Typhoon carrying migrants arrives at Dover docks today. One picture showed a migrant wrapped in a foil blanket being pushed in a wheelchair

It comes after 120 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats on Saturday, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 1,506. Pictures taken at Dover docks yesterday

It comes after 120 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats on Saturday, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 1,506. Pictures taken at Dover docks yesterday

It comes after more than 120 migrants crossed the Channel in three small boats on Saturday, bringing total number of arrivals this year to 1,506.

A total of 124 migrants made the dangerous crossing across the choppy waters, the Home Office confirmed.

The total figure for arrivals this year is down from the 2,072 by the same point in 2023 but up from 1,339 in 2022.

The total for the number who were intercepted by the Border Force for this week is 171 while the highest number who crossed in a single day so far this year was 358 on January 17.

Apart from the crossings on Saturday and Thursday, small boats had not been intercepted since January 31.

Last week, an illegal Channel migrant living under a rowing boat on a Kent beach spoke out about how he is struggling to leave the country.

In an astonishing claim, the 25-year-old Syrian says he is ‘trapped’ in this country and wants to get out.

He has been trying to escape the UK since last summer when he was evicted from a hotel in Leeds used by the Home Office for asylum seekers.

For five months, he has played a night-time cat-and-mouse game with police in the port of Dover as he tries to secretly climb on a cross-Channel lorry leaving by ferry for France.

Border Force escorting 50 migrants into Dover Docks, Kent, on the weekend

Border Force escorting 50 migrants into Dover Docks, Kent, on the weekend

Migrants being brought ashore after being picked up in the English Channel on January 17

Migrants being brought ashore after being picked up in the English Channel on January 17

He said how he claimed asylum after arriving in Dover on a people traffickers’ rubber dinghy from France in August 2021 – one of 28,526 migrants to cross the Channel that year.

On arrival, he told the Home Office he had run away from the Syrian civil war as a teenager and his return would mean a call-up to the army, where his life would be endangered.

But he broke Home Office asylum rules five months ago when he left the Britannia Hotel in Leeds for a week to try to earn some money on the black market. 

When he returned hoping for a bed, he was told by officials that his asylum claim was being struck out. He headed for Dover. 

Occasionally, well-wishers leave him cans of beer beside the upturned boat on the pebbly beach. 

He would dearly like to pay a people traffickers’ ‘agent’ to put him on a lorry or private boat to sail undetected to France.

However, the going rate can run to more than £1,800 – and he added: ‘Other migrants have left that way but I cannot raise that’.

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