UK

Piste Wars: English Ski Company Boss Thinking Of Quitting Over Instructor's Arrest

04/04/2013 15:17 BST | Updated 04/04/2013 16:03 BST

An English ski company boss said he was thinking of "shutting up shop" and moving home after he claimed police in the French Alps were clamping down on foreign instructors.

Simon Butler spoke out after his instructor Alex Casey, 40, from Ascot in Berkshire, was arrested by police at the Megeve ski station earlier this week for teaching without the correct qualifications and questioned for several hours.

Butler, who employs 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?"

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."

He was questioned because he lacks the top-level Eurotest qualification, which can only be won after completing a challenging slalom run.

His arrest on Tuesday prompted dozens of tourists to protest outside the police station where he was being held in support of the "highly popular" instructor.

Butler said five gendarmes had come to his office this morning asking to question another of the company's nine instructors.

"It's absolutely unbelievable," said the 50-year-old, who has been working in the region for 30 years.

"We have guests who are worried about talking to each other or pointing at routes when we're out, because they don't want French police to think they're instructors."

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