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Ferry giant refuses ID card

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An early adopter of the UK's controversial ID card was refused passage when he tried to board a ferry to Rotterdam.

Norman Eastwood, from Salford, and his wife Jeanette had booked a passage from Hull with P&O Ferries on Saturday. The ID card, which has been offered on a voluntary basis to the public in Greater Manchester as part of a limited trial since last month, is meant to allow travel across Europe as an alternative to a passport.

However P&O staff at check-in had never seen the card before and didn't know it was a valid travel document. The unfortunate Eastwood was told he would need his passport - which he had left at home - to travel.

"We had no idea the ID card was being trialled," a P&O spokesman explained. "Mr Eastwood turned up with a form of ID we didn't recognise."

"He was told that he wasn't going anywhere without a passport."

Eastwood was left with little option but to abandon Xmas shopping plans and head home, some 105 miles away. He told the BBC that the incident left him feeling humiliated and "like a second-class citizen".

Dutch passengers who used a national identity card from The Netherlands were allowed passage on the same ferry Eastwood had hoped to travel on.

The ferry firm has offered Eastwood free ferry tickets and an apology for the mix-up. P&O has informed staff at all its UK ports about the ID card in order to prevent a repetition of the incident.

P&0 carries 10 million passengers a year. If one of the UK's transport main carriers doesn't know the ID card is being trialled, then a huge communication breakdown must have taken place.

A Home Office spokeswoman said P&O should have known about the ID card because it distributed information in the run-up to public trials. If P&O had paid a refund, then it must have been ferry firm's fault for not knowing, she argued.

Hmmm.

P&O could, of course, have simply offered a free ticket as a gesture of goodwill.

A spokesman for the ferry firm told us that UK borders agency staff at the port (Hull) didn't know about the ID card either, a suggestion strongly denied by a Home Office spokeswoman.

In a statement, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said the mix-up was an isolated incident. It defended its record about keeping carriers in the loop about travel document changes, such as the introduction of the ID card.

"We are sorry to hear of Mr Eastwood's experience," it said. "People have made numerous journeys around Europe using their identity cards and this seems to be an isolated incident."

"We have a standard and well established process for informing border agencies and carriers around the world of any change to international travel documents, which we followed in this case. We are speaking to P&O to understand why this happened and ensure that there can be no repeat of it." ®

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