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Man, 42, will appear in court after six migrants are found in the back of a lorry at East Sussex ferry port


  • Anas Al Mustafa charged with assisting unlawful entry to the UK 
  • Remanded in custody and will appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Monday

A man will appear in court on Monday after migrants were discovered in the back of a lorry at an East Sussex ferry port. 

Anas Al Mustafa, of Heather Crescent, Swansea, was charged with assisting unlawful entry to the UK following the major response from emergency services at Newhaven ferry port on Friday.

The 42-year-old has been remanded in custody and will appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

Six people were taken to hospital after the discovery on the ‘Seven Sisters’ ferry between Newhaven and Dieppe in Normandy, northern France, but no deaths were reported by Sussex Police. 

On Friday, police said two men had been arrested in connection with the incident, one on suspicion of people smuggling and the other on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.

Six migrants were discovered in the back of a van at Newhaven ferry port (pictured) on Friday

Six migrants were discovered in the back of a van at Newhaven ferry port (pictured) on Friday 

The migrants were discovered on the 'Seven Sisters' ferry (pictured) between Newhaven and Dieppe in Normandy, northern France

The migrants were discovered on the ‘Seven Sisters’ ferry (pictured) between Newhaven and Dieppe in Normandy, northern France

Emergency services including ambulances, police and Border Force were in attendance at the incident.

Ferry operator DFDS, which runs services between Newhaven and Dieppe, previously confirmed migrants were found on board the Seven Sisters vessel and said immediate medical attention was provided.

The migrants, who appeared to be of Asian origin, were freed after the ferry’s security staff broke down a false wall in the back of the van that had been concealing them.

The port security staff did this after workers on board the ferry heard banging coming from the van as they were preparing to dock at Newhaven port. 

One man, who declined to be named, said: ‘The migrants appeared to have been lying down in a small section of the van.

‘They were hidden by a false wall that had been built into the back of the van. It was only a small space so they must have been practically lying on top of each other. It would have been very cramped and hard to breathe.

‘The reason they were found was that staff working on the ferry heard the migrants banging on the wall and the back of the van during a routine check of vehicles as we were about to dock.

‘They summoned some other workers, who looked like security personnel and who then physically broke down the wall and let the migrants out. Some were unconscious and some were able to climb out the van with help.

‘The police and fire teams arrived soon after the ferry had docked and they took the seven or so migrants to an ambulance. They were put on stretchers and taken off the ferry one by one in oxygen masks.

‘The driver of the van and another man who I think was in the passenger seat were then arrested and taken away.’

Workers on board the ferry heard banging coming from the van as they were preparing to dock at Newhaven port

Workers on board the ferry heard banging coming from the van as they were preparing to dock at Newhaven port

Another eyewitness, who was driving to work at the time of the incident, said: ‘It looked pretty horrendous. Three of the men were totally unconscious. They were on ambulance gurneys and paramedics were giving them oxygen.

‘They looked in a bad way. Paramedics were particularly concentrating on treating one individual – I couldn’t see if it was a man, woman or child.

‘Paramedics had wrapped them all in foil blankets. It looked really serious.’

‘Initially we thought loads of people had been found dead but thankfully they are alive. The emergency services responded really quickly and it was all brought to a close very rapidly.’ 

Responding to media reports about the incident, Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, whose constituency includes Newhaven, said in a post on X: ‘Very concerned about these reports.

‘From my office in Newhaven we can see lots of activity opposite at the port and thanks to the emergency services responding.’

People trafficking into the UK has become a hot political topic in recent years.

Besides soaring numbers crossing the English Channel in small boats, smugglers have also used HGVs to hide migrants – at times with tragic results.



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