Police swoop on lorry suspected of carrying migrants on the M25 causing seven-mile tailbacks

‘Migrant smuggling’ sting brings M25 to a standstill: Police swoop on lorry and arrest driver causing seven-mile tailbacks after motorists spot people streaming out of the trailer

  • ‘Police incident’ brings traffic to a standstill on the M25 near Brentwood, Essex
  • Multiple police cars were seen surrounding a lorry on a lay-by this afternoon 
  • Witnesses saw people leaving a lorry on the side of the carriageway at 12.45pm
  • A lorry driver, 45,  was arrested at the scene suspected of immigration offences 
  • Drivers have been seen getting out of their cars during scorching 92F heat  

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A sting on a suspect migrant smuggling operation brought the M25 to a halt this afternoon as police stopped a lorry and arrested its driver.  

Police brought traffic to a standstill near Brentwood after witnesses saw people leaving the back of a lorry at around 12.45pm.

Highways England cameras show multiple police cars surrounding a lorry, police say a 45-year-old lorry driver from Romania has been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

It comes a day after a record 235 migrants crossed the channel and arrived in the UK – the highest ever daily total.

The news prompted a ‘furious’ Priti Patel to back plans for the Senior Service to patrol the English Channel.

The Home Secretary made a pledge last October that crossings would be virtually eliminated by now yet nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year.

Essex Police cars surrounded a lorry on the side of the M25 this afternoon after people were seen leaving a trailer earlier this afternoon

Essex Police cars surrounded a lorry on the side of the M25 this afternoon after people were seen leaving a trailer earlier this afternoon

Traffic was held on the M25 this afternoon as police surrounded a lorry suspected to have been carrying migrants

Traffic was held on the M25 this afternoon as police surrounded a lorry suspected to have been carrying migrants

This afternoon, traffic was queuing for miles from around 1pm, with delays still remaining between Junction 27, the Theydon Interchange for the M11 and Junction 28 in Brentwood.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: ‘We were called shortly before 12.45pm this afternoon, Friday 7 August, with reports that people were seen to be leaving from a lorry trailer on the M25 between junctions 28 and 27.

‘Officers quickly responded and have arrested a 45-year-old man from Romania on suspicion of immigration offences.’ 

The stoppage meant both carriageways of the motorway were closed on a day when many Brits were heading off to staycations, or to the beach. 

Some passengers decided to take advantage of the closure by hopping out of their cars, with a couple of men pictured playing rugby on an empty carriageway.

Essex Police say the investigation is in its early stages and it is not clear at this time which country the lorry came from or at which entry point it entered the UK. 

Last year, 39 Vietnamese nationals were found dead in the back of a lorry in a industrial estate in Grays, Essesx.

The victims include 10 teenagers and 31 people who were from the Ha Tinh region.

It comes as Rishi Sunak today promised swift action to turn back the ‘tide’ of migrant boats heading for the UK from France as he refused to rule out using the Royal Navy.

The Chancellor said people were right to be ‘frustrated’ the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began.

The figure, which surpasses the previous record of 202 set last Thursday, prompted officials to draw up plans where for the first time the Navy could turn back boats.

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019.

Delays on the M25 were cleared by 5pm. 

Desperate motorists were seen getting out of their cars after the M25 was shut in Essex, following what appears to be a police incident

Desperate motorists were seen getting out of their cars after the M25 was shut in Essex, following what appears to be a police incident

Motorists took to Twitter to warn others not to go on the M25 today after Essex Police closed both carriageways near Brentwood

Motorists took to Twitter to warn others not to go on the M25 today after Essex Police closed both carriageways near Brentwood

Young children are among another 100 migrants to arrive in the UK today as ministers threaten to send in the Royal Navy to turn back the ‘tide’ of boats crossing the Channel

By David Wilcock and David Barrett for the Daily Mail and James Gant for MailOnline 

Young children were among another 100 migrants to have landed in Dover today as ministers threatened to send in the Royal Navy to help turn back the ‘tide’ of boats.

The fleet of dinghies included a girl aged around eight, another about 10, as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town.

The children were picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter and taken into a white tent at the marina at 12.15pm.

Some of the adults – who appeared mainly to be men – carried their possessions in plastic bags before they were processed.

Rishi Sunak today promised swift action to turn back the ‘tide’ of migrant boats heading for the UK from France as he refused to rule out using the Royal Navy.

A tiny baby was spotted yesterday morning arriving in Dover with its family after crossing the Channel in a dinghy - carried in what appears to be a gym bag

A tiny baby was spotted yesterday morning arriving in Dover with its family after crossing the Channel in a dinghy – carried in what appears to be a gym bag

On Thursday up to 235 migrants crossed the channel - the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week

On Thursday up to 235 migrants crossed the channel – the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week

The Chancellor said people were right to be ‘frustrated’ the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began.

The figure, which surpasses the previous record of 202 set last Thursday, prompted officials to draw up plans where for the first time the Navy could turn back boats.

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019.

Among today’s illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel intercepted by Border Force officers.

They were given face masks and were seen being bundled into a bus at around 10.30am.

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm.

Meanwhile Border Force workers had to rush to save a group of 17 migrants whose boat broke down in front of the White Cliffs of Dover.

A further nine men were seen leaving Hunter at 12.50pm wearing life jackets as authorities wore white masks to escort them to a coach.

And seven more male refugees were brought into the harbour on the vessel Speedwell at 1.30pm.

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019

A Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus after they were brought into Dover this morning

 A Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus after they were brought into Dover this morning

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm

A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘HM Coastguard is today coordinating search and rescue responses to a number of incidents off Kent, working with Border Force and other partners.

‘We are committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.

‘HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

Speaking on a visit to Scotland earlier today, Mr Sunak said: ‘I think people are absolutely right to be frustrated at the scenes they’re seeing.

‘I’m frustrated, everyone is, which is why we’ve been working much more closely with the French government in recent time to improve our co-operation and intelligence-sharing to police crossings.

‘The immigration minister will be visiting France again, I believe next week, to discuss how we can step up that co-operation and take further action, further measures and stronger measures as required to stop and reduce the tide of boats coming.’

Among today's illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel that was intercepted by Border Force officers

Among today’s illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel that was intercepted by Border Force officers

The fleet of dinghies included a a girl aged around eight, another around 10 as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town

The fleet of dinghies included a a girl aged around eight, another around 10 as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town

The children were picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter and taken into a white tent at the marina at 12.15pm

The children were picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter and taken into a white tent at the marina at 12.15pm

A group of around 16 migrants including 10 kids and an eight-month pregnant woman landed on Dungeness beach, Kent, today

A group of around 16 migrants including 10 kids and an eight-month pregnant woman landed on Dungeness beach, Kent, today

Immigration still too high – poll 

More than half of Britons think immigration is still too high despite years of Tory promises to bring it down, a study said yesterday.

It warned Boris Johnson that if his points-based immigration system allows a wave of mass immigration, then voters will turn against him.

The study from the Migration Watch UK think-tank said most recent polling found that 54 per cent think immigration has been too high over the past decade.

Only 5 per cent think it has been too low. And more than six in ten said they believe the Government has been mishandling immigration policies.

The analysis found that fears over the effects of large-scale immigration became a major concern after Tony Blair opened the doors to millions from both inside and outside the European Union.

Worries declined after David Cameron came to power in 2010 promising to cut immigration back to 1990s levels and subsided further after the 2016 Brexit referendum. 

The report said: ‘Most continue to have strong views about a perceived lack of effective immigration control.’

 

Asked about reports the Navy will be used, he said: ‘I wouldn’t want to speculate on exactly what measures will be put in place.

‘It’s important that we work closely with our French allies on this situation.

‘Obviously France is a safe country for migrants to be. We all want to see these crossings reduced and, pending the outcomes of those conversations, we can decide on the best next steps to take.’

A ‘furious’ Priti Patel last night backed plans for the Senior Service to patrol the English Channel.

Nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year.

The crisis is a personal blow for the Home Secretary, who made a pledge last October that crossings would be virtually eliminated by now.

A Home Office source said: ‘The final straw was this record number, which led the Home Secretary to demand this new initiative.

The real solution must come from the French – we want the French to take them back.’

Last night sources said Navy vessels could now begin turning migrant boats back to France in a major escalation of tactics.

Mrs Patel has told MPs she has obtained legal advice that such a move would be legal under international maritime law.

But the tactic would be highly controversial and risk alienating the French government, which has told Britain it believes it to be illegal.

Other emergency measures being considered by the Home Office include using Navy vessels to block the path of migrant boats.

It is understood smaller military craft would be used, rather than larger vessels such as frigates or destroyers. The Royal Marines could play a key role, sources said.

British forces could also use nets to entangle propellers or floating ‘booms’ to block the way for migrants dinghies.

Both methods were tested in secret trials in May and June involving Navy ships and Border Force boats.

A Government source said: ‘These are all options that are being considered. The Home Secretary is furious about this daily total, which we think is as high as 250.’

It is now understood the figure is 235, according to the BBC.

The source added: ‘She has instructed her officials to speak to the Ministry of Defence about how we can proceed.

She has also requested a discussion with the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.’

Civil servants from both departments have conducted initial talks and the Home Secretary may follow these up with a formal request for assistance from the Ministry of Defence.

Yesterday’s arrivals included at least ten young children and a heavily-pregnant woman, who were aboard a boat which landed on Dungeness beach in Kent.

One of the children, a boy aged around four, looked exhausted as he lay back on the pebble beach with his arms spread out.

The heavily-pregnant woman was wearing a black dress and face mask as she held the hand of a child.

She looked weary and had her head in her hand at one point, after being picked up by a lifeboat.

Amateur photographer Susan Pilcher, who saw the group on the beach, said: ‘I could hear the Border Force workers asking the woman how many months pregnant she was, and she replied ‘eight’.

Mrs Pilcher added: ‘When you think she’s doing such a risky crossing over the Channel when she’s heavily pregnant, that says how much they’ve been through.’

A British patrol boat also towed a kayak into the Port of Dover yesterday.

The Home Secretary has said she wants ‘stronger enforcement’ on the other side of the Channel and has been trying to persuade the French government to allow migrant boats to be turned back.

She said last year that a previous deal with the French would make crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this spring.

It came as an inquiry was launched into the crisis by the Commons all-party home affairs committee.

MPs will begin their investigation when Parliament returns at the start of September.

A committee spokesman said: ‘The inquiry will look at the role of criminal gangs in facilitating the growth of this form of illegal immigration and the response of UK and French authorities to combat illegal migration and support legal routes to asylum.’