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Immigrant clings to school bus axle

A head teacher has condemned Government border controls after an illegal immigrant managed to hitch a 200-mile ride to the UK clinging to the underside of a school coach.

The 35-year-old man, believed to be from Sudan, had ridden on the vehicle's axle after climbing underneath near the Eurotunnel Calais terminal in France and evading security checks.

He was only discovered as he emerged "disorientated" from under the coach, as youngsters arrived back at the Perry Beeches Academy in Birmingham, executive head teacher Liam Nolan said.

Mr Nolan hit out at what he called an incompetent "lapse in security", saying it was "jeopardising" his pupils' education.

The man was arrested after the coach's arrival late on Saturday night, and is now being processed by the UK Border Force.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Government was working with the French authorities to tighten security measures.

Mr Nolan said the coach had been through a security check at Calais, adding he was "particularly angry the man was not found at the time".

Pupils arrived back outside the school's gates after 11pm, at which point the immigrant emerged in what Mr Nolan described as "an awful state".

"He had clung on since Calais," he said.

"He was disorientated as you would expect, and looked very ill.

"He just stumbled out from underneath the coach, and the teachers looked after him, rang the police and called the headteacher.

"A lot of us today have been thinking about that man, and the pupils have been asking after him."

Mr Nolan said at no point had any school staff or pupils spotted the man during the homeward leg of their journey, adding everyone was taken off the coach at Calais for passport and security checks.

"He was of no danger at all to the pupils or staff at the school, " said Mr Nolan.

"His interest was not to endanger anyone, but, I presume, to come to the UK to better his own life."

However, Mr Nolan said the "lapse in security" posed questions as to how the academy's future school trips abroad would be operated, and he was writing to parents about the incident.

Mr Nolan criticised the fact the man had managed to get underneath the coach without being spotted.

"We run this trip to Normandy for all our Year 9 pupils to learn about the history of the D-Day landings, learn about the heroes involved and provide them with a life experience," he added.

"When you get to the Eurotunnel terminal, security takes everyone off the coach - staff, pupils and driver - and everyone has their passports checked.

"They then look inside the coach, and underneath, yet this man has got aboard without them noticing.

"The Government's border agency is now jeopardising the outstanding education we provide at Perry Beeches.

"Because of their incompetence, I am now in a position where I am seriously considering whether this is a type of a school trip we can do again."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said its officers were called to the school "after a man was found on the axle of a coach returning from a school trip to France".

"The 35-year-old from Sudan was arrested and is being dealt with by the UK Border Force," he added.

Mr Brokenshire said: "The security of the UK border is our first priority, which is why the Government has spent millions of pounds on strengthening controls and upgrading technology at Calais and Coquelles."

"As our border controls become stronger, we are seeing illegal immigrants taking increasingly dangerous risks to enter the UK.

"We are working with the French authorities to help tighten up security even more to stop this from happening."

At the weekend, Home Secretary Theresa May met French counterpart, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and agreed a series of joint commitments to tackle the immigration problems at Calais, including tightening security measures.

UK and French law enforcement agencies have also been targeting the organised criminal gangs responsible for the people trafficking and smuggling behind the issue.

Both governments are also pushing for action across Europe and internationally in a bid to tackle the problem.

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