Ex-Soldier Seeks Leniency From France In Afghan Girl Smuggling Case

A British aid worker and former soldier has called on France to show it is a "compassionate country" by dealing leniently with him for trying to smuggle an Afghan girl into Britain.

Father-of-four Rob Lawrie, 49, has said he will admit illegally trying to get Bahar Ahmadi - known as Bru - into the UK hidden in his van, when he appears in court in Boulogne on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Lawrie, from Guiseley, Leeds, appeared with Bru in his lap at a packed press conference in the French seaside town and said he was scared of being made an example of by the authority.

He told reporters: "They see the media attention I have been getting and I think it could go one of two ways.

"France has an opportunity to show, as I know they are, a compassionate country. But they also have an opportunity to say we are now allowing this to happen and we are sending a message to all the well-intentioned volunteers."

He added that he regretted his actions and would not do it again.

Asked what his advice would be to others thinking of copying, he added: "Don't do it. On a personal level it will ruin your life."

Mr Lawrie was stopped in Calais as he returned home in October. The former Army physical training instructor said he was helping build shelters in The Jungle camp when he got to know Bru ,and her father asked him to help get her to close family members living legally in Leeds.

He was caught when British sniffer dogs found two Eritrean men who, unbeknown to him, had also stowed in the back of his van.