The old adage warning something that looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true appears not to have yet reached broadcaster LBC, where Gammon Emeritus Nick Ferrari has been featuring reports of people smuggling. The problem for Ferrari, his producers, and indeed the broadcaster itself is that their story bears all the hallmarks of a similar one splashed all over the Murdoch Sun back in January.
And that one, infamous for the contribution of one Paul Samrai, of whom it has been said “Everyone in the industry knows Paul Samrai comes with a health warning”, was , as Zelo Street showed, demonstrably fake - and in the same league as the claim that migrants could cross Europe without a valid passport. In the latter case, reporter Emile Ghessen was rumbled because he’d had to, er, show his passport to get into Croatia.
So what has LBC alleged? Fortunately, the people at Mail Online have laid out the evidence, such as it is, for our perusal. And the first thing that leaps off the page is the similarity with the Sun’s January effort. Take this from the Sun: “[the fixer] told our team that he helps set up speedboat crossings to the UK for £6,000 per person”.
Now let’s check Mail Online. “Speaking from a tent in a refugee camp in northern France, Farooq said: 'I take one person for you for £7,000. By Boat’”. Prices have gone up, then. And how many have they got across the Channel? In January, we read “I’ve smuggled 300 migrants into UK”. Can Farooq top that? “Asked how many … he sends per night, Farooq replies: 'Every time 30, 40, 30, 40, 50. Last night people pass. I think it's 20, 25 people’”.
But what if the French cops decide to intervene? Again, we see the similarity between the accounts. In January, the response was “If police catch you, they never send you back. It’s secure to go, no danger”. And now? “Farooq claimed French police are helping them smuggle people across the Channel. 'When you're going to the beach, French police come. They say, Today not possible. Today go, next day, come’”.
We've been here before
And in both cases, no enquiries were made with the authorities in France. Well, they speak foreign, don’t they? So what about the places in the UK where those arranging crossings could pay a deposit? In January, it was a restaurant in Southall - except the people there knew nothing about the scheme. This time, the addresses include, er, “a restaurant … in West London”. The LBC investigation did find another address, though.
That was a newsagent in the West Midlands. But the story given there does not match that of people smuggler Farooq. The Birmingham shopkeeper claimed “I keep the cash because going to banks over here is too dangerous”. But Farooq “has bank accounts in the UK, France and Pakistan”. Also, he lives in a tent somewhere in northern France, but is making £1,000 a pop from these hundreds of migrants he helps get into the UK.
It is also claimed “Farooq said once migrants reach UK waters they are picked up by police, held for 24 hours then put into a hotel where they can escape”. And, surprise surprise, the Police in England have also not corroborated this hokum. Nor does Farooq have any problem showing his face to the people from LBC.
My Occam’s Razor concludes that LBC, and Mail Online, have been conned. If it looks too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. Must try harder, chaps.
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