Brit ski boss could 'shut up shop' and move back to UK after French police 'clamp down on foreign instructors'

Chris Parsons
The French ski resort of Megeve, where arrested instructor Alex Casey had taught for ten years (Rex)

British skiers have accused the French of 'pure persecution' after a 'highly popular' UK instructor was arrested for 'teaching illegally'.

The British ski teacher, named in reports as Alex Casey, aged 40, from Kent, was arrested for allegedly giving lessons to learners in the resort of Megeve without the top qualification that France demands.

The English ski company boss who employs Mr Casey, meanwhile, said today he was thinking of "shutting up shop" and moving home after he claimed police in the French Alps were clamping down on foreign instructors.

The arrest caused furious protests from UK tourists, who claim the French are trying to drive foreign instructors from the country.

Dozens of angry demonstrators gathered outside the French police station where Mr Casey was being held yesterday to support the instructor and protest against the Gendarmerie.

Mr Casey, who is said to have been an instructor in the resort for more than a decade, reportedly claimed he was videoing skiers when he was arrested by French police.

In France would-be ski instructors must undergo a tough race test following their training to be granted a licence to teach.

Mr Casey is an instructor for Simon Butler Skiing, which also runs two chalets in the ski resort of Megeve.

Simon Butler, who employs Mr Casey in his company in the Haute-Savoie region, claimed French police were targeting them in a bid to keep jobs for locals.

He said: "It was peaceful until last summer and now they're after all of us. It's totally put me off doing business in France. We are thinking about shutting up shop and moving back.

"Can you imagine telling French people they can't work in England?"

Mr Butler added: "Alex is a highly popular instructor, and that's why so many people decided to protest about his arrest.

"The police kept him all day and night in a cell. All of our guests have had enough, they were not even allowed to get their voice heard."

The instructor of more than 30 years added that he was also arrested at the start of the ski season for illegal instructing and is currently appealing against a three month suspended sentence.

Mr Casey, who has worked in the resort for 12 years and now faces a three-month prison term, said he had been held for 10 hours and "100% unfairly treated" by the French authorities.

"I'm one of the best instructors on this mountain," he said. "To be honest I'm thinking about retiring altogether. I don't want to go to jail for skiing."

"I was led off the slopes in handcuffs - it's pure persecution," he said.

"If this kind of thing happened to French workers in Britain there would be an absolute outcry. It's scandalous."

Mr Butler, who is appealing against his own three-month suspended sentence for employing instructors without licences, said he would fight any charges through the courts.

The two men are due to meet with a Procureur de la Republique, a local magistrate, later today.

A spokesperson for Chamonix police, which patrols the skiing valleys, said: "It is absolutely not a clampdown on foreign ski instructors as has been reported in some parts of the English media."

The officer said Mr Casey was questioned for not having the necessary qualifications to instruct and an inquiry was ongoing.

"He was held for several hours and was then released. He will come before a French judge once an investigation has been carried out."

The Foreign Office said it was aware of the arrest on Tuesday and is offering consular assistance.