The tragic case of a young man who went missing on a cross-Channel ferry has been raised in the European Parliament.
Richard Fearnside disappeared in 2013 after boarding P&O’s Pride of Kent ship in Calais with his fiancee, following a holiday in the south of France – and his parents of Clare Road, Whitstable, still do not know what happened to him.
Marianne and Bob Fearnside have been campaigning to get CCTV cameras installed on ferries in the four years since Richard’s disappearance, and launched a change.org petition that has attracted almost 100,000 signatures.
Richard’s case has now been taken up by West Midlands Ukip MEP James Carver, who told the parliament: “The lack of CCTV cameras on the ferry passenger decks left his family with many unanswered questions, not knowing whether Richard suffered an accident, took his own life or was even possibly pushed overboard.
“His name is added to an increasing list of missing ferry and cruise ship passengers, and I am humbled to be able to support his family’s campaign for mandatory CCTV and thermal imaging cameras on all ferries operating from British and EU ports.”
Richard, who lived in Canterbury, and had just celebrated his 30th birthday when he went missing, told his fiancee that he was going up on deck for a cigarette, but he failed to return and as passengers disembarked at Dover there was no sign of him.
Despite a huge search that involved Dover lifeboat, an RAF rescue helicopter and the Royal Navy ship HMS Tyne, he was not found.
Speaking at the launch of the petition, retired teacher Mrs Fearnside said: “Whenever we tell people Richard disappeared and we don’t know what happened to him because there is no CCTV cameras they are always amazed because they assume they will be there.
“We have no idea what happened to our son. He just vanished.”
The couple’s appeal to P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras fell on deaf ears as the firm said it would be “impossible to monitor such cameras in real time and impossible to record such images in perpetuity.”
Mr Carver said: “All the bereaved ask for is a degree of closure. Surely that is not unreasonable.”