Far-right Britain First vigilantes pelted with rocks before mounting patrols on cliffs of Dover

Andy Gregory
Far-right volunteers patrol the Kent coastline: Britain First / SWNS

Members of far-right group Britain First were pelted with stones during a visit to Calais to tell asylum seekers they were not welcome in the UK.

Shoving cameras into the faces of protesting migrants and using racist rhetoric, the group’s leader Paul Golding and his supporters fled in their vehicle as several young men threw stones at them.

In the hours following the altercation, the anti-migrant group began vigilante patrols of Dover’s beaches, which they dubbed Operation White Cliffs.

Increasing numbers of desperate people have attempted to cross the Channel in recent weeks in the wake of mass evictions in Calais. A total of 187 people crossed in seven days from 10 September, when an unprecedented total of 86 people were picked up in six crossings.

The group, which achieved infamy when a white supremacist shouted “Britain first” as he fatally shot and stabbed MP Jo Cox in 2016, called Sunday’s beach patrol a “trial run” and stated an intention to patrol the Kent coastline around the clock. They said 12 people had volunteered.

In the footage of their visit to Calais, Mr Golding can be heard telling people to “go back to their own country” and saying: “These are the migrants that are infesting Calais ... It makes me sick. One drive past these people shows how disgusting they are.”

Mr Golding has previously been convicted for a series of hate crimes against Muslims, and admitted assaulting Britain First’s former female deputy Jayda Fransen, who alleged the violence took place over a period of roughly four-and-a-half years.

The group’s plan to establish so-called “patriot patrols” of the coastline are reminiscent of vigilante groups in the US, who have been rounding up migrant families and asylum-seekers while clad in camouflage and brandishing firearms.

Britain First’s plans drew widespread condemnation from campaigners and members of the emergency services.

“We are shocked and concerned to learn of this unsettling development,” said Care 4 Calais founder Clare Mosley.

“When deeply traumatised men, women and children arrive on our shores they are often in need of medical attention and should be met by professionals. We urge anyone who thinks otherwise to please think again.

“Whatever your opinion regarding the arrival of people from France, we believe it is essential to maintain respect for British law and trust in the work carried out by our emergency response services.”

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Riccardo La Torre, firefighter and Eastern Region Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, branded the coast patrol “despicable” and said: “These have-a-go, racist vigilantes have no place in any kind of enforcement or emergency activities and will only serve to make conditions and tensions worse.

“These groups claim to be the voice of the working class, but now they want to act as an arm of the authorities by patrolling beaches to apprehend struggling working-class people desperately trying to get to safety.

“This latest stunt shows exactly who these far right groups truly serve, and it certainly isn’t workers like us.”

A member of the group also filmed himself arguing with police as they intercepted a group of asylum-seekers along the southern coast.

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A Home Office spokesperson said: “Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk. We are working closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity. In addition, Border Force cutters are patrolling the Channel and we have deployed equipment to detect migrant activity.

“Members of the public should report any unusual or suspicious activity to their local police and must not take direct action against any individuals or groups.”

In August, home secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Christophe Castaner pledged to “intensify joint action to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel” by “drawing up an enhanced action plan to deploy more resources along the French coast to intercept and stop crossings”.

Ms Mosley told The Independent last week that since the meeting, security in the region had intensified and efforts to evacuate people from makeshift encampments had increased, which was blamed for with fuelling the recent rise in crossings.

Additional reporting by SWNS

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