British PM Candidate Helped Smuggle Teen Girl into Belgium

April 25th, 2010 at 11:58 am | 19 Comments |

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A leading candidate to be the next British prime minister once helped smuggle a 17-year-old girl into France and then Belgium, FrumForum has learned.  Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who has proposed amnesty for illegal migrants to Britain, showed a similar disregard for enforcing immigration laws by helping a British teenager hide in a bus lavatory and evade authorities during a 2003 cross-border trip to the European Parliament in Brussels.

Naomi Bullivant, a British citizen who was accompanying her friend on a Liberal Democrat-organized trip, had left behind her passport and could not legally enter France.  But instead of being sent home, the 17-year-old was told to hide in the lavatory as their coach arrived at the immigration checkpoint. The immigration official in Britain did not spot Ms. Bullivant, and she was able to travel through France to Brussels.

Although the instruction to hide in the lavatory was given by an aide of Mr. Clegg’s, FrumForum has learned that Mr. Clegg, who was then a member of the European Parliament representing East Midlands, was aware of it and did not object. In fact, Mr. Clegg was so cavalier about the incident that, according to Ms. Bullivant, now 25, he even participated in a joke about it over dinner one evening in Brussels.

At the very least, Mr. Clegg acquiesced in an action that was in breach of procedures he, as a member of the European Parliament, was being paid to uphold and had sworn to defend. British citizens have the right to travel visa-free to France. However, since the United Kingdom is not a party to the Schengen agreement, which maintains common border controls for travelers to the European Union, it is mandatory for its citizens to carry a valid passport in order to enter Schengen states.

A French immigration official FrumForum spoke to was not pleased by this revelation. “France is in the Schengen area and British nationals who enter this territory must carry valid documentation,” said the official, who declined to be named. “It is illegal otherwise,” he added.

More significantly, this breach strikes at the heart of the security and immigration debates that are central to the ongoing general election in Britain. The principal reason for the French authorities’ frustration, the official explained, is the possibility of illegal immigrants entering France through Britain. The failure to thoroughly scrutinize the documentation of people exiting Britain means that illegal immigrants can very easily slip into France.

This story is not the sort of revelation on which elections turn.  Yet it does draw attention to the chasm between Nick Clegg’s tough official stand that all immigrants in Britain be counted and his personal attitude to the issue, which one French immigration official described as being “risky.”

In an election season in which the British people seem more than usually fed up with politicians who think rules don’t apply to them, it seems one such politician is leading the Liberal Democrat party.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Gus

    Really? This is what passes for oppo research today? Pretty pathetic.

  • TerryF98

    As far as I know within the EU there is no need to carry a passport. A british citizen can go anywhere within the boundary of the EU states which do not really have a border. So it is unlikely that any offense was committed.

    What this has to do with this forum in any respect escapes me.

  • Tim Mak

    @TerryF98:
    British citizens have the right to travel visa-free to France. However, since the United Kingdom is not a party to the Schengen agreement, which maintains common border controls for travelers to the European Union, it is mandatory for its citizens to carry a valid passport in order to enter Schengen states.

    A French immigration official FrumForum spoke to was not pleased by this revelation. “France is in the Schengen area and British nationals who enter this territory must carry valid documentation,” said the official, who declined to be named. “It is illegal otherwise,” he added.

  • ottovbvs

    ……Some Conservative very trivial dirt a few days before the election to try to smear Clegg who is giving the Conservatives heartburn?

  • chris777

    Pathetic.

    Doing the Tories dirty work for them eh?

    I would have thought you had enough problems in the States with your own reviled backward party…

  • martinveart

    Great headline for a non-story.

    I travelled a lot across European borders in the 1980s. Documents were rarely checked in western Europe and international border posts usually stood empty.

    Nice try but no cigar.

  • msmilack

    I understand that many readers of this blog have already decided they do not want Clegg to win, but some of these articles against him seem a touch reactionary; why not report in a fair way and provide multiple sources that show both (or more) sides of each issue of which he is being criticized? As a person who still does not know that much about him, I find the articles I read about him on this site automatically make me suspicious of the articles instead of him, because they do not sound well-researched or balanced. I think high standards of journalism should apply even to a blog and where they normally do on FF, in the case of Clegg, they seem quickly written and not carefully well-researched. Perhaps the author has more sources to prove his point as well as an equal number of responses from the other side; if so, please share them.

  • northernheckler

    This is so weak on so many levels.

    (Even if it’s true !)

    The chances of being stopped and having your passport checked on a bus between England-France-Belgium – are minimal. The Schengen area legislation is of relatively minor importance here, since all three countries are full EU members – travel is permitted without passports between the countries – although technically people are supposed to carry appropriate ID – and no suitable alternative to a passport exists in the UK

    However – that would provide a difficulty with proving her right to be present in the country – but she still would have that right.

    UK is a co-operating member in the Schengen arrangements, despite not being a full member, and as such more stringent border arrangements would not apply.

    That this is an issue about immigration is somewhat silly as well – presumably this young lady came home on the same bus ? So she didn’t emigrate – although she would have been fully entitled to.

    You might have stopped to wonder whether the French official was having a laugh at your expense as well – the English channel – across which they undoubtedly travelled is a notorious point of entry for illegal immigrants – from France to England – and not the other way round – just ask any Conservative favouring publication in the UK gutter press.

    Finally try searching on twitter for #nickcleggsfault to realise why no one will take your article seriously any more

  • COProgressive

    Kapil wrote;
    “At the very least, Mr. Clegg acquiesced in an action that was in breach of procedures”

    Rumor has it that Mr. Clegg also smuggled a box of Earl Grey Tea into France as well.

    BFD!

  • Churl

    The problem is that the Tories behind David Cameron – the sort of quasi-conservative squish that Fromco admire – are in a much too close for comfort race with Labour and Gordon Brown. Brown is a disaster by most standards and Labour beating the Tories under current circumstances would be a massive renunciation of the idea that a “wet” conservative can be counted on to beat a liberal, even a fantastically inept one.

    Clegg is perceived as drawing more votes from the Tories than Labour; hence Frumco’s attempt to do what little they can to blacken his reputation.

  • ottovbvs

    Churl // Apr 25, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “The problem is that the Tories behind David Cameron – the sort of quasi-conservative squish that Fromco admire ”

    …….And what hard right program do you recommend that would ensure their election in 2010 Britain?……the fact is the Brits like most Europeans like the squish as do we when it gets down to it…….hence Cameron and the Conservatives have been reduced to peddling some vision of Merrie England with coops, small govt, a yeoman entrepreurial class, etc etc……it’s totally bizarre in the context of modern Britain…..you see Churl there’s a huge flaw at the heart of one of the central tenets of modern conservative thought……. namely that free and self regulating markets encourage social conservatism in areas of corporate and personal behavior…..in fact the reverse is true……free markets are completely destructive of traditional economic structures, social hierarchies, patterns of behavior etc(take a look at the energy, financial, media and airline industries if you don’t believe me) ……..this has proved to be the great unintended consequence of the Thatcher govt (which never reduced public spending btw any more than Reagan’s did)…..but I’ll stand by for your policy prescriptions for “Dave” Cameron

  • aadster

    haha! Oh dear!
    So, Kapil, how is Andy Coulson?

    Careful, these stories have already badly discredited several right wing newspapers in the UK, severely denting their reputation.
    I’d read some of the comment and sentiment coming from all sides, including notable conservative bloggers over ‘vile’ tactics, all too clearly originating from Conservative HQ’s Director of Communications, Andy Coulson.

    Would anyone really believe that FrumForum has been researched this,.. as opposed to being blindly fed it by a desperate party conducting a dirty tricks campaign by proxy?

  • ottovbvs

    aadster // Apr 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    “I’d read some of the comment and sentiment coming from all sides, including notable conservative bloggers over ‘vile’ tactics, all too clearly originating from Conservative HQ’s Director of Communications, Andy Coulson.”

    ……Maybe some of the readers here don’t know Coulson was the former editor of a particularly vile British newspaper called the News of the World (Murdoch owned of course) that illegally tapped the phones of the great and good in Britain and thus forced the resignation of Coulson and the subsequent paying out by Murdoch of millions in hush money to silence those tapped who have taken court action……apparently there is a long line of people planning to bring such actions and Murdoch is desperately trying to keep this out of the courts or he and others are going to be forced into a witness box under oath……that Cameron would hire this total scumbag as his director of communications is a measure of his personal judgement I think.

  • Oskar

    Despite his differences with others on the right lately, Frum remains a neocon and thus a believer in sticking our noses into other nation’s business.

  • aadster

    Call me a smidge sceptical, but…it’s also kinda’ strange that “Ms. Bullivant” would find this such a scaring and abhorrent an event that she clearly willingly chose to put her self through, that she would wait 7 years until an election campaign to tell of her story, to an absolutely unknown neocon website in a totally different country in a totally different continent, which just happens to have an agenda which matches precisely the party which Mr Clegg is stealing most votes from.

    I’d also like to know how she was supposed to *get back* without her passport (not mentioned)- that’s a lot more tricky!

    In any case, by making such a school boy mistake by talking about “illegal immigrants entering France through Britain” you are demonstrating that this is some kind of late April fool. Not at any point in history has immigration flowed that way, apart from maybe the dunquerke evacuation in 1940.

    Its like talking about illegal immigrants entering Mexico via the US!

    Epic Fail, as the young folk say these days.

  • LB

    way to fail at a smear job. It’s always been pretty clear Clegg had an “unusual” past. This really isn;t that different.

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  • wrs10

    Good for a laugh – but should this item not be kept to the gossip columns?

    northernheckler
    “and no suitable alternative to a passport exists in the UK”
    A European driving licence would probably do for a short trip – although at 17 she might not have had one.

  • ktward

    What’s it say about a column when relevance and fact-based information exist solely within the casual thread comments?

    I’ll skip on Kapil and stick with Fareed.