East Lothian businessman threatened with detention Calais arrive home after 30-hour ordeal
Threatened with forcible removal by UK border officials Craig Douglas and Ricardo Rivero faced a ‘terrifying’ 30-hour wait for help from the Home Office.
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The businessmen, who attempted to travel home to Haddington, East Lothian from Calais on Wednesday, September 15, were barred from crossing the English Channel by the authorities.
The Home Office today confirmed that the issues have been resolved and Mr Douglas, 54 and Mr Rivero, 58 have re-entered the country.
Problems with the pairs crossing presented due to a computer error caused by administrative issues processing Mr Rivero’s passport.
Born in Argentina to Spanish parents Mr Rivero has dual nationality and attempted to use his Argentinian passport to re-enter the UK.
The Home Office had the businessman's Spanish passport as it was being used to process his EU-citizen settled status application and he was unable to use this to travel.
Mr Douglas received an email from the Home Office last night that said the computer system was to blame for the issues which have now been resolved.
The Home Office returned Mr Rivero’s Spanish passport to him and the two businessmen boarded a boat home from Calais on Thursday, September 16.
A spokesperson said: “Mr Rivero has now had his Spanish passport returned to him, been granted pre-settled status, and will be able to return the UK.”
Delighted to be home but furious at the 30-hour delay to their return trip Mr Douglas said he was threatened with detention three times before he was finally able to board the ferry.
“We are finally on our way home,” said Mr Rivero. “We received an email (from the Home Office) last night but were detained twice more this morning. Apparently, their computer is to blame.
“From arriving at the port it took 30 hours to get on the ferry.”
We have been treated horrendously
The businessman criticised the UK border control’s treatment of them, describing it as “terrible” and “inhuman”.
Mr Douglas and Mr Rivero arrived at the Calais ferry port at 6.30am on Wednesday, September 15, and got through French border control without “any trouble”.
Mr Douglas said: “But when we got to British Border control a staff member stopped us and said we had two options. We could either try and get on the ferry or we could get in a car and leave the port of our own accord.
“He said if we attempted to get on the ferry we would be detained and this could have consequences for Ricardo’s application.
“I asked what we were meant to do after we left, who to contact, and he said that was ‘not his problem’.
“Empathy seemed to go out of the window then, I said I was Ricardo’s employee and had a duty of care.
“He did not agree, he said he was an adult and could look after himself and said I could get on the boat without Ricardo.
“The most upsetting part about the whole thing was I was given two minutes to make my mind up about what I was going to do.
“They said I had two minutes before they would forcibly remove us from the port, we had to leave. I couldn't get on the boat without him.
“We have been treated horrendously.”