A man who allegedly threatened a Ukip MEP with a gun at Dunkirk was actually the suspected ringleader of a British criminal gang, a police source has revealed.
Mike Hookem, MEP for Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire, said earlier this week he had been threatened by a "migrant" in the French port, adding "hope police find these criminals, we can't have them in the UK".
Just been threatened with a gun by migrants in Dunkirk— Mike Hookem MEP (@MikeHookemMEP) August 10, 2015
Feel like I've spent the day in a Dunkirk police station. I hope the police find these criminals we can't have them in the UK or France.— Mike Hookem MEP (@MikeHookemMEP) August 11, 2015
But the Daily Telegraph has now reported that a senior police source told them the man who allegedly threatened Hookem was in fact suspected to be the leader of a British gang.
The mayor of nearby Teteghem, Franck Dhersin, told the BBC that Brits who complained about migrants did not realise "the cars are English and the owners are English", and that the 'English mafia' were often spotted there.
He added that the traffickers were violent and simply wanted to make money.
Hookem told HuffPost UK that his team provided evidence that the gangs were British, including photographs and a first-hand account from a charity worker and the mayor.
The MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire said he wanted to visit the camp to understand more about the migrants and their reasons for wanting to reach the UK.
The Ukip defence spokesman said his group were invited to access a woodland site near the seaside town by migrants who were "milling around".
But he said the "situation immediately turned nasty" after another man at the camp appeared holding a handgun and stopped them from entering.
He said the incident left a woman in his group of five people "very frightened".
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the French authorities to deal with the situation in northern France.
"We are increasing joint intelligence work to target the organised crime gangs behind people smuggling and the NCA, along with Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, continue to work closely with French (Ocriest) counterparts.
"We must also treat the causes of this problem, not just deal with its consequences. The UK is playing a leading role in pushing for action through the EU and the UN to tackle the causes of illegal immigration and the organised trafficking gangs behind it that exploit migrants at each stage of their journey."