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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 00:32 GMT 01:32 UK
Army chief to review Eurotunnel security
Immigrants near the Channel Tunnel entrance hide their faces
The company says hundreds try to stow away each night
Eurotunnel has appointed a former army general to try to cut the number of people illegally entering Britain using the Channel Tunnel, it has emerged.

General Sir Roger Wheeler, who commanded British land forces until his retirement last year, has been asked to review the tunnel operator's security procedures in France.

Sir Roger, who has seen action in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and the Falklands, takes on the job indefinitely to try to stem the numbers of illegal immigrants.

Several hundred asylum seekers have been intercepted trying to enter the UK illegally through the tunnel in the past few weeks.

Red Cross camp

They have been caught either walking along the tracks or stowing away on trains.

Eurotunnel has blamed the proximity of the Red Cross refugee camp at Sangatte near Calais to the tunnel entrance and has taken legal action to try to have the centre closed down.

Sir Roger Wheeler
Sir Roger has served in Bosnia and the Falklands
A spokeswoman for Eurotunnel said it has been looking for a person with military experience to take on the security review.

"Really it's a situation where we needed someone with tactical thinking," she said.

"There are some facilities in place which the asylum seekers have looked around and we thought a military person was best to look at what we are doing."

Sir Roger, 59, was appointed to the Eurotunnel post in July. He has already carried out an audit of what security measures Eurotunnel has in place at the tunnel entrance at Coquelles.

Fines

Having considered the weaknesses, he will make recommendations as to how security can be improved, the spokeswoman said.

Sir Roger's appointment will hope to cut the heavy fines Eurotunnel pays for every asylum seeker who risks his or her life crossing into Britain.

Sir Roger was Chief of Staff in the Falkland Islands in the aftermath of the conflict there.

He was also joint Army Commander in Bosnia five years ago and is a former General Officer Commanding and Director of Military Operations in Northern Ireland.

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The BBC's Adrian Campbell
"Eurotunnel is appointing a senior Army officer to tackle the problem"
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