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Stowaways - no fine for truckers

PUBLISHED: 18:00 28 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 March 2010

TRUCKERS at Felixstowe welcomed the decision by the Court of Appeal to quash the government's policy of fining them £2,000 if stowaways were found aboard their lorries.

TRUCKERS at Felixstowe welcomed the decision by the Court of Appeal to quash the government's policy of fining them £2,000 if stowaways were found aboard their lorries.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the system of having a fixed fine, which did not take into account the circumstances of each case, is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Although the court ruled that the policy of fining lorry drivers £2,000 for innocently bringing stowaways into the country did not contravene European free trade laws.

The Freight Transport Association said they would be seeking talks with the Home Office to clarify the situation and discuss the ruling and how quickly it will be implemented.

Eddie Green, managing director of Norfolk Line, based at Felixstowe Port, said: "It's the right decision but it's been a long time coming.

"The government doesn't do anything to prevent the tide of illegal immigrants getting into the country and they offer no assistance to hauliers to combat the problem.

"We have encountered problems in the past, so the ruling is an important one for us."

Although not directly affected by the decision, a spokeswoman for hauliers Ralph Morton, of Fagbury Road, said: "We welcome the decision and don't feel that truck drivers should have been punished in the first place.

"It's cunning how the drivers got dragged into it in the first place and then got penalised for what was in their lorries – something which they have no control over."

Hauliers said they were being made scapegoats to try to stop the tide of human cargo sweeping into Britain – and that many innocent lorry drivers faced prosecution.

The International Road Transport Union welcomed the judgement and called for a compensation system for affected operators to be put in place.

After the judgement, Richard Turner, chief executive, of the Freight Transport Association described the fining policy as "ineffective and illegal".

He said: "The Home Office has abandoned fines on Eurotunnel and freight trains. It must now finally ditch this failed, unfair and unjust policy for truck operators too."

Home secretary David Blunkett said that while the fines had played a "major part" in tackling illegal immigration, the government intended to "look carefully at what steps they should take to deal with this issue, including the possible legislative options".

While both sides were given leave to appeal against Friday's ruling, the Home Office has said it does not intend to do so.

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