Published: 12:58, 21 May 2020
| Updated: 13:59, 21 May 2020
Nigel Farage has alleged the French Navy made threats over him filming them handing migrants over to the English - instead of returning them to France.
The Brexit Party leader said it was a "national scandal" and called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to act after he saw multiple migrants risking their lives crammed into a small vessel yesterday from a boat in the English Channel.
In a video of himself on a boat, posted on Twitter, he said they were on the edge of British territorial waters where there had already been three migrant boats spotted.
He said: "The truth of it is this is a massive criminal enterprise making vast sums of money.
"You can see the boats absolutely packed, all being charged a minimum of 5,000 Euros each by the criminal gangs to make this crossing."
His camera focused on water lapping over the weighted down hull of a crammed vessel indicating the immediate risk to the lives of those on board.
He said: "You can't believe when you see how close the water is to the edge how massively overcrowded this is.
"We could put them under tow but there's no point because we know the Border Force vessel is on its way from Dover so we will just keep guard here.
"We're now going back in to French waters. What we know is that a French naval vessel has been seen escorting boats out of French waters, then they're off their hands."
He then added: "The big French naval vessel has now gone - they've done their job. They've brought, escorted that little dinghy into British waters. They've now left their own RHIB of that vessel just to make sure they're safe until the handover to the Border Force.
They're even trying to prevent us filming it with the French naval vessel trying to get in the way of the handover. We've just been told by UK Coastguard that they will commandeer this vessel if we film the handover between the French Navy and the British Border Force."
It's not just the French that are threatening us, they're now threatening someone we're out with with his living if we told the truth about this story. This has got to be out there. Home Secretary - you've got to act."
Mr Farage later tweeted a screen shot of a shipping log charting the journey of a vessel from the French coast to British waters and back.
He said: "For anyone that doubts me, here is the proof that the migrant boat on my film today was escorted from the French coast into UK waters by the French Navy. This is a national scandal."
The picture identifies the tracked vessel as Fourmentin, which listed on the Marine Traffic website as a French law enforcement ship, but the image does not show the migrant boat he referred to as being escorted into British waters.
The Home Office has provided background information which outlined that the preservation of life as paramount in international law while at sea.
"There have been some instances where migrants refuse to board French boats. The boat will remain with the migrants to ensure their safety.
"But we are clear that no one should be getting on these boats and putting themselves in danger, which is why we have already returned over 155 people who arrived on small boats."
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: “We are working tirelessly with the French to stop these illegally-facilitated crossings, sharing criminal intelligence with the NCA and French authorities. And a substantial French law enforcement deployment last weekend prevented over 100 migrants from making the crossings - with the French also stopping migrants today.
“Migrants should not risk their lives leaving a safe country and we will look return those who did today where possible.”
Of the small boat incidents yesterday (May 20) the Home Office said: "Border Force and partner agencies have been dealing with multiple incident today after being alerted to small boats in the Channel travelling towards the UK.
First incident: at around 3.37am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 10 males who presented themselves as Iranian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Pakistani.
Second incident: at around 4.09am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 13 males who presented themselves as Syrian.
Third incident: at around 4.31am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 12 males and 1 female who presented themselves as Iranian and Yemeni.
Forth incident: at around 4.50am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 17 males and 3 females who presented themselves as Iraqi and Syrian.
Fifth incident: at around 14.05pm, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of eight males who presented as Pakistani and Afghani.
All those encountered by UK Border Force will be transferred to immigration officials. They will be interviewed, and their cases will be dealt with in line with the immigration rules, transferring to detention where appropriate.
In line with Public Health England guidance, Border Force and all operational staff have the relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available to them."
More by this authorBeth Robson