Guernsey Press

Returning islanders ‘were made to feel like second class citizens’

A PARTY of Guernsey residents claim they were made to feel ‘like second class citizens’ on their return to the island from a day trip to France, when they were asked to produce proof of their right to enter the Bailiwick.

Santa Berzina and Chris Blin who, after a day trip to France, were required to produce their ‘right to remain’ form which some ferry passengers did not have with them. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32523491)

The requirement is a legacy of Brexit and the Guernsey Border Agency has said anyone with documentation showing they have indefinite leave to remain should carry a copy with them when travelling abroad – even if returning on the same day.

Chris Blin and Santa Berzina were among a group travelling to Dielette on Saturday 9 September to attend the Lessay Fair agricultural show. When their return boat arrived at St Peter Port at about 9pm, they were asked to produce their passports. All those without British or Irish passports were then asked to show evidence of their ‘settled status’.

‘This is where the problem started,’ said Mr Blin.

‘Anyone with a European passport was asked to show proof of their indefinite leave to remain.

‘No one was notified of this. No one was aware of this.’

He acknowledged that it has been known since Brexit that anyone leaving the Common Travel Area and then returning would need to meet the UK’s new immigration clearance requirements. He said he recognised that the GBA staff were just doing their job and ‘doing it very professionally’.

However, he felt that in the case of a day-trip on a chartered vessel, with a manifest detailing all the passengers departing and arriving on the same day, the procedure had been unnecessary.

‘A number of individuals were held back while they looked for their various documentation,’ he said.

‘You had some very distressed, distraught individuals who felt they had been taken aside – the only term I can use for this is “discriminated against”. It strikes me it was “jobsworth”.’

Miss Berzina said she had been confused that, as a Guernsey resident EU passport holder, she had had to provide further evidence of her right to come back ashore.

‘They just didn’t want to let me through,’ she said.

‘I was upset and thirsty and there was nowhere to sit down while they went to another room to check on their computers.

‘They should put something in the passport, so they can see straight away – like a stamp or something.’

The GBA has confirmed that a passport, plus a confirmation of settled status, is sufficient for EU citizens to proceed through passport control at Guernsey’s ports.

Furthermore, a new, much-delayed digital system is soon expected to be in place, which will immediately recognise the passports of the 4,000 or so EU citizens in Guernsey with settled status.

‘We don’t want to hold people up,’ said Border Agency deputy chief officer Peter Knee.

‘We are just trying to discharge our function and we’re having to do it in a work-around manner until we move to the better system.’