East Lothian businessmen threatened with detention remain stuck in Calais
An angry business owner trapped in Calais has blasted the Home Office for threatening to detain him and barring his business partner from re-entering the UK.
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On Wednesday, September 15, UK border officials told East Lothian-based Craig Douglas and Ricardo Rivero that they had two minutes to leave the French ferry port or they would be forcibly removed.
The shocked businessmen, who intended to catch the 7.40am ferry home, were told that they would be detained if they attempted to board the vessel.
The pair had been on a week-long work trip through Spain picking up specialist ingredients for the Victoria Inn, a tapas restaurant the pair run in Haddington.
With a car full of specialist meats, spices and other products Mr Douglas, 54 and Mr Rivero, 58, were forced to return to the centre of Calais and search for a hotel.
Angered by the lack of help provided by officials Mr Douglas said: “We should be back in Scotland by now but instead I’m driving around Calais trying to find a hotel.
“We are completely stuck and there is nowhere to go for help, we both feel completely abandoned.”
An administrative error could be behind the issue
Born in Argentina to Spanish parents, Mr Rivero has dual nationality and used his Spanish passport to apply for EU-citizen settled status in the Uk in March 2021.
As his Spanish passport is currently being held by the Home Office while they finalise his application, Mr Rivero used his Argentinian passport to travel to Spain with Mr Douglas on Wednesday, September 8.
It is suspected that using this passport while the Home Office is finalising his settlement status with his Spanish passport has caused an administrative error that is preventing his return to the UK.
“We did not think there would be any issues,” said Mr Douglas. “We put the application in months before the June 21 deadline and was told everything was being processed.”
Treatment at the border was “inhuman”
Furious at the way UK border control treated his business partner, Mr Douglas described the ordeal as “terrible” and “inhuman”.
He said: “We have been treated horrendously.”
Mr Douglas and Mr Rivero arrived at the French ferry port at 6.30am 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.
“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.
“The most upsetting part 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. I couldn't leave without him.”
MSP for South Scotland Craig Hoy is attempting to help both men get back into Scotland.
He said: “We are working with Mr Rivero and the UK authorities and hope to a quick and fair outcome can be quickly reached.”
The Home Office was contacted for a response but did not reply in time.