A lorry driver has said he feared for his life when his vehicle was attacked near Calais by a group of refugees and migrants angered by the demolition of part of their makeshift camp.
The attack by at least a dozen young men, some wielding sticks and bars, was captured in video footage. It left the driver Mick Young with cuts to the forehead and an eye wound that needed hospital treatment. The attack also caused £2,500 damage to the lorry.
“It was petrifying,” Young said. “I’m not going to lie and play the macho man, I was shitting myself. I couldn’t stop shaking. They had sticks, bars, lumps of concrete. And they put a shaft of a metal bar through my windscreen.”
Young called for greater protection for drivers on the approach to Calais. “Eventually they are going to kill someone,” he said. “They were aiming rocks at my side window.”
Young added: “Two lumps of granite came through the windscreen. I know it was granite because they are in my cab. The windscreen came into my face. I’ve got a cut forehead from particles of glass and I couldn’t open my right eye. They cleaned it out in the first aid at Calais when I eventually got into the port, but it still wasn’t right so when I got back to England I had to go to A&E near when I live in Essex.”
The attack on Young’s lorry, which was loaded at the time with chipped potatoes from Belgium, happened at about 6pm on Monday evening after the first day of the demolition of part of the Calais refugee camp known as the “Jungle”.
Young said: “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were just rioting because the police are trying to shut their camp down. They won’t take it out on the police because they know they’ll batter them, so they take it out on the drivers instead.”
He said the video of the attack did not reveal how many men were involved. “The video is quite deceptive. On the hard shoulder there were about 30 or 40 of them,” he said.
Young, a 47-year-old father of five who runs a small haulier business from his home in Corringham, Essex, said he would have to pay £2,500 for repairs to the dented cab and smashed windscreen.
“I’m self-employed, it’s my own truck, so now I’ve got to foot the bill. I am insured but if I claim my premium will go up by that much,” he said.
Young was speaking from Germany where he was carrying out another delivery. “I’ve gone straight back to it because it’s my living. You can’t give in to them. They are just out for an easy life on benefits in England.”
He added: “I’ve got two trucks. My best friend drives the other one. We drive back and forward to Belgium and Germany and put up with all that every other day.”
Young said he had avoided getting attacked before by offering food and money. “I’ve seen them smashing lorries before but I’ve always talked my way out of it with a little bit of food and money. But that night they weren’t even asking for money, they were just smashing everything in sight.”
Kate Gibbs, the spokeswoman for the Road Haulage Association, called for the French army to protect drivers. “We have got to increase security. We cannot wait before a haulier is killed for more security is put in place,” she said.
Richard Burnett, the association’s chief executive, added: “We regularly hear of drivers who quite simply refuse to travel through this critical freight route because they no longer want to put their lives at risk. And why should they?”
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