‘Group of Hastings fishermen block RNLI lifeboat crew’ from helping migrants at sea

A witness claimed she could ‘hear the hatred’ in the fishermen’s voices

Lamiat Sabin
Tuesday 30 November 2021 16:10
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A group of fishermen reportedly tried to block a lifeboat from going to the English Channel to rescue migrants.

An incident happened on Saturday 20 November, just days before at least 27 people, including some children, died after the dinghy people-traffickers put them in had deflated and capsized in the Channel.

Zoe, a caller on LBC, said she and her boyfriend saw the fishermen in Hastings attempting to prevent the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) vessel from attending to an incident at sea.

She added that the fishermen shouted: “Don’t bring any more of those [migrants] home, we’re full up”.

Zoe said on 25 November: “On Saturday my boyfriend and I were just on the beach and we heard the lifeboat station opening up and thought ‘oh they have a call’ and started watching.

“There was a group of fisherman pulled up, gutting fish on the shore, and as the boat station opened up we heard the fisherman start shouting things like ‘don’t bring any more of those home, we’re full up’, ‘that’s why we stopped our donations’, and that kind of really horrible stuff.

“It was really upsetting, and you could hear the hatred in their voice.

“The lifeboat crew pulled the boat out to go into the water and some of the fishermen deliberately came out with their buckets and stood directly in the line of the boat so the boat couldn’t be put in the water.”

When LBC host James O’Brien asked her if she was “sure” about what she saw, she replied: “I’m absolutely sure, the police were called.

“It really shook me to the core and we thought of it yesterday night when we saw the news that people had passed away again.”

A spokesperson for RNLI confirmed the incident had been reported to authorities, and that the lifeboat was eventually able to launch.

They said: “We can confirm an incident was reported to the police. The lifeboat was able to launch and the station remains on service.”

After the RNLI’s statement, Mr O’Brien tweeted: “I had no reason to doubt my caller’s story but I didn’t want it to be true...”

Sussex Police said in a statement: “Just after 4pm on Saturday, November 20, police were made aware of reports of a disturbance near to the Hastings RNLI Lifeboat Station.

“A police officer attended the scene while also being supported by colleagues monitoring the situation on CCTV.

“No arrests were made.”

Under the Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act 2006, anyone found guilty of preventing a lifeboat worker from carrying out their duties is an offence punishable by an “unlimited” fine, according to the legislation.gov.uk website.

This article was amended on 1 December 2021. It previously incorrectly attributed information regarding potential punishment under the Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act to the Sentencing Council, instead of legislation.gov.uk.

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