Nine suspected illegal immigrants, of Iranian origin, have been arrested after they were found in the back of a lorry in Hampton.

Police were called at 1.35pm to Oldfield Road to reports nine people had been found in the trailer of an articulated lorry and eight men and one woman were arrested for immigration offences.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Witness Linda Shanks, who works at Hallite Seals in Oldfield Road, said she saw five people being taken out the back of a lorry by police.

She said: “They got out of the lorry and sat on the kerb – it was all done very calmly, without much fuss.

“There were a lot of police stood around making sure they didn’t run away.

“They were quite subdued and didn’t look happy.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening in Hampton – you expect it to be happening in Dover but not here.”

She added about 10 people were taken away in two police vans after about 30 minutes.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Another witness, who asked not to be named, said they saw the door to the lorry opened as they drove past.

They said: “The police were talking to them [the people inside the lorry] but they looked really reluctant to come out.

"Loads of other meat wagons started hurling down the road and police pulled up and made them all get out.

"I was with my friend and we just couldn’t believe what was happening."

The arrested people were found in the back of a trailer, which contained furniture, owned by Suffolk-based haulage company Kersey Freight.


Co-owner James Mainwaring said the driver discovered the group on arrival in Hampton, having passed through Calais en route.

He said: "When they opened the trailer to unload, they noticed someone was in there so shut the door, locked it and waited for the police to come.

"It looks like they have got on to the ferry on another truck and hopped out of that and on to one of ours - it is a real pain in the backside.

"It has been on the news over the summer, but this has been a real problem for 10-15 years and, to be honest, I can't see how it's going to stop."

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said the group was arrested on suspicion of entering the country illegally and was taken to a south west London police station where they will be questioned by immigration officers.

She said: "Anyone found to have no right to remain in the UK will face removal from the country."

Hampton Councillor Gareth Roberts, who asked council leader Lord True if Richmond Council would commit to rehoming refugees last month, said he hoped the men would be treated with respect.

He said: "If these people are being trafficked then I hope that those responsible are dealt with severely, people who trade in human misery deserve no sympathy.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

"As for those found in the lorry I would ask that they are treated humanely and decently.

"As yet we have very little knowledge of how they came to be in this situation and what their motivations are.

"I hope that they will be treated with generosity and respect rather than with suspicion."

Director of Refugee Action Kingston, Sanja Djeric Kane, said she was not surprised the group found in the lorry were from Iran.

She said: "Despite the media focus on Syria there are human rights abuses going on all over the world and people who would want to claim asylum here.

"I just hope their cases are looked into really carefully and they are treated well and the right decision is made for their lives and their future."

She added: "If you heard some of the stories from our clients you would understand why they would want to go on a lorry to the UK."