Channel Tunnel 'could be closed at night to deal with migrant crisis'

The option has reportedly been discussed in emergency Cobra meetings

David Hughes
Friday 07 August 2015 13:23
Closing the tunnel at night has been described as a 'nuclear option'
Closing the tunnel at night has been described as a 'nuclear option'

The Channel Tunnel could be closed at night to prevent migrants from making further attempts to use it to enter Britain, according to reports.

The proposal has come to light after it emerged that a suspected illegal immigrant was arrested by police after walking almost the tunnel’s entire 31-mile length from Calais.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the ‘nuclear option’ of closing the tunnel to night trains has been discussed during the Government’s emergency Cobra meetings, due to concerns that such services heighten the risk of migrants attempting to enter the tunnel. The paper says Ministers have sought legal advice on pursuing the measure.

Sources confirmed that the option to close the Channel Tunnel exists, but said there are no immediate plans to pursue such action.

A Government spokesman said: "We have and continue to consider all potential courses of action to improve security at the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles and to prevent any loss of life.

"A number of new security measures have been introduced and ministers both here and in France keep the situation under constant review."

Kent Police charged Abdul Rahman Haroun with causing an obstruction to an engine or a carriage using the railway after the 40-year-old Sudanese man was found near the Folkstone exit of the tunnel on Tuesday evening.

He had dodged hundreds of security cameras and officers at the Calais entrance and avoided trains travelling up to 100mph before he was discovered by British security guards. The intrusion has been described by Eurotunnel as ‘extremely rare’ and ‘extremely dangerous’.

David Cameron has said that much more needs to be done to bolster Britain's border security to tackle this summer's migrant crisis. At least nine people have died trying to cross from Calais to Britain, and UK police and social services have been placed under huge strain.

Although more fencing and police officers have helped, further improvements to halt migrants crossing illegally into Britain were taking place "in the coming weeks and days", the Prime Minister said.

Speaking in Snowdonia, north Wales, Mr Cameron said: "We have done a lot in recent days to improve the situation but there's a lot more to do.

"So we have got more fencing, we've got more police officers, more sniffer dogs, more guards, better security, and we are making progress."

The BBC has defended its decision to film “a couple of features” for Songs of Praise from a Calais migrant camp, saying that it is part of the show’s remit to examine “topical issues of the day”.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Songs Of Praise is a magazine-style programme. Each week it brings hymns from churches around the UK and short topical magazine features of interest to Christians from a range of places."

Additional Reporting from PA

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