Scots MEP Raises Risks To Hauliers Of Continental Travel

13 October 2008
Alyn Smith SNP MEP for Scotland has raised the plight of Scots hauliers travelling to and from the continent, in light of claims of unfair and heavy handed treatment by foreign Customs Officers.

Mr Smith was contacted by one such haulier, Mr John Erskine of Armadale, after being referred to him by his fellow SNP colleague Councillor Isabel Hutton. Mr Erskine complained of his treatment by three French Customs Officers in a service area in Nantes, France.

Mr Erskine purchased cigarettes and rolling tobacco on a boat from the UK to mainland Spain, dropped off his load in Madrid and proceeded to travel back to the UK through France. Mr Erskine claims that the French Customs Officers fined him on the spot for having too much tobacco. However he claims that the Officers advised him that had he been a tourist this would not have been an issue. In light of these claims Mr Smith wrote to the French Consul General in Edinburgh requesting that this matter be investigated thoroughly.

Mr Smith said:

"From what Mr Erskine has told me, the way he was treated by the French Customs Officials is very disappointing. I have raised this matter with the French Consul General, as after consulting with the Road Haulage Association, apparently they are inundated with complaints from hauliers regarding the conduct of foreign Customs Officers.

"I have been advised that Mr Erskine was open and co-operative with the Customs Officers, yet they saw fit to frog march him to the nearest cash machine to demand the €250 fine.

"To be honest, this is by no means the best way to foster good relations if our hauliers are afraid to purchase goods on the continent for fear of being fined.

"I look forward to the Consul General's response and hope that Scots hauliers can feel safe and secure in their rights when travelling to and from the continent in future."