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Stena Line chief: Britons fat and covered in tattoos

A ferry boss apologised today after labelling Britons "quite fat and covered in tattoos".

Pim de Lange, a director of Stena Line's North Sea routes, said the company had struggled to recruit staff who were fit for the job.

The comments, made to a Dutch newspaper, come in the wake of claims that the firm was planning to hire Filipino workers on rates of £2.20 an hour.

Dutchman Mr de Lange, who claimed his remarks were taken out of context, also said it was hard to find British workers who were "young" and "fit".

In a statement, he said he regretted "any offence caused" and insisted the company was committed to maintaining a mix of British, Dutch and Filipino workers.

Stena Line's North Sea routes operate between Harwich in Essex and the Hook of Holland.

"I regret any offence caused by my comments and apologise," he said.

"I hugely value the contribution of our British and Dutch employees, along with our Filipino crew, and as usual we will continue to work together.

"Our employee mix and pay scales on our new superferry, the Stena Britannica, will be the same as previously.

"Contrary to media coverage, we have not been on a recruitment drive in the Philippines and are not making any UK seafarers redundant, but instead will continue to employ a mix of British, Dutch and Filipino workers, as we have always done.

"At present, with the new Stena Hollandica sailing and the new Stena Britannica launching in October, our employment ratio of nationalities is very similar to previous years.

"On the new superferry we will employ more UK seafarers than on the present Stena Britannica.

"All our British and Dutch employees are hugely valued, as are our Filipino staff, who have an excellent reputation for hospitality services, which we and our customers value enormously."

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