A newly engaged British couple holidaying in France claim they were held in a police cell for two days after being wrongly accused of trying to smuggle a migrant in the boot of their car.
Sam Hemingway, 23, and Jordan Valentine, 20, were returning from their engagement trip in June when police at the ferry port in Calais found the migrant, thought to be a 16-year-old Iranian.
The couple say they did not know the teenager was stowed away in their car and were “just as shocked” as the police to find him.
They claim they were held in separate cells without any food or access to a lawyer.
Mr Hemingway told Sky News the couple were asked to sign documents in French and “didn’t know what we were signing”.
The pair were told they could have a phone call and access to a doctor and lawyer.
“They gave me a 20-second phone call to my sister just to say we’ve been arrested,” Mr Hemingway said.
Mr Hemingway claims the couple did not receive any legal advice and Ms Valentine was not given medication for her mental illness.
He added: “At first they denied it, they didn’t give her anything, and then at nighttime her dose is two tablets, but they only gave her one.
“So when she was explaining that she needs two and they weren’t having any of it, she got a bit panicky and she had a bit of a breakdown.
“She was screaming and shouting and Jordan said there was about four or five policeman just sat around looking through the glass door, laughing at her, saying: ‘Mental illness is just an excuse, you’re not ill, you’re just a baby.'”
“Neither of us were offered anything to eat or drink and Jordan wasn’t offered any feminine hygiene products either.”
Police went through the couple’s finances and stripped the car as they believed they had been paid to smuggle the migrant.
But Mr Hemingway claims he had only had €25 (£22.31) in cash at the time and £300 in his bank account.
The pair were released without charge after police tested the lock on the boot of the car, which Mr Hemingway said was faulty.
He said that a button would sometimes open the car’s boot if pressed.
The couple believes the migrant got into their car while it was parked in a residential area as they shopped in a nearby town centre.
Mr Hemingway says he tried to make a case with the British consulate in Paris, but did not hear back from them.
“Both of us feel let down from the lack of the support we got from the consulate and we feel disgusted by the way French police treated us,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Our consular staff offered advice to two British people arrested and subsequently released in France in June.”
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