Published: 12:48, 05 June 2021
| Updated: 20:00, 05 June 2021
The Home Office is said to be "urgently investigating" reports a Border Force boat entered French waters to pick up a dinghy of asylum seekers.
Crews on the vessel Valiant were recorded arranging the pick-up with a French patrol ship in the Channel last week before escorting the craft back to Dover.
Both British and French authorities are said to be attempting to curb the numbers of small boat crossings.
A fresh agreement between the two governments was drawn up last year, which saw the number of police patrolling the French coastline double in size.
However, attempts on behalf of Home Secretary Priti Patel to ask her European counterpart Gerald Darmanin to ensure the country would stop small boats in their waters were unsuccessful.
The French navy will come to the aid of any boat that is in distress; there is no indication that the small boat in this incident was struggling.
In the recordings, which were shared by the Daily Mail this morning, an officer aboard the Valiant can be heard asking permission to enter French waters to pick up the dinghy.
He said: "The difficulty we have is the vessel is in your waters, and we cannot come into your waters to take the vessel.
"Would you have a problem if we put our boarding boat into the water near the vessel, however, we will just escort it towards UK waters?"
An officer on the French patrol boat Athos then responds by saying "we give you legality to do this, no problem".
The Valiant – a 140ft cutter – then crossed into French waters and sent a dinghy to recover the oncoming asylum seekers.
Ms Patel has repeatedly spoken of her desire to curb the small boat crossings, however, numbers are continuing to increase as the good weather on the coasts holds.
When contacted by KentOnline, a Home Office spokesman would only say: "We are urgently investigating the circumstances behind this incident."