(Left to right): Kim Heaton-Heather, Brendan Woodhouse, Dan Bebawi and Jon Stone who are calling for help from the Foreign Secretary

The Foreign Secretary has been asked to help free four British rescuers, including two men from Nottinghamshire, who are stranded near Sicily as they face an investigation for allegedly assisting illegal migration.

The Sea-Watch 3 rescued 47 people from an inflatable vessel during storms in the Mediterranean, which was causing their inflatable to lose air, on January 19.

The team of rescuers have been prevented from leaving their boat or local waters by the Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini.

The rescuers have called on Jeremy Hunt to put pressure on the Italian authorities and accept migrants on board.

Credit: Reuters

Brendan Woodhouse, a 42 year old firefighter from Nottinghamshire, said they were “imprisoned” off the coast of Syracuse, Sicily.

He said: “We are not allowed to land, nor are we allowed to leave, nor is the ship allowed to sail away.”

The 42-year-old father of two said they wanted the Italian minister to “take a share of the responsibility” for the people on board and allow the crew to leave.

“We are not allowed to land, nor are we allowed to leave, nor is the ship allowed to sail away.”

Dan Bebawi, 39, formerly a car mechanic from Nottingham, is also on board the ship.

Mr Salvini has refused to let private rescue boats enter the Italian port. He says they are encouraging human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

He has accused the crew and captain of “a crime and a clear desire to use these immigrants in a political battle” and that evidence will be handed to the judicial authorities.

The ministry report added: “The interior minister is gathering elements to evaluate whether to press charges against the entire Sea-Watch crew for favouring illegal immigration.”


The crew said they rescued migrants, including 15 unaccompanied minors after they were spotted off Libya by a passing plane.

Sea-Watch 3 said they were not granted permission to land by Malta before the coast guard for Italy said they could shelter in its waters from a storm.

Three United Nations agencies have appealed to Italy to allow the migrants off the ship.