UK opens criminal probe into P&O Ferries over crew firings

Apr 1, 2022, 8:43 AM | Updated: 8:50 am

LONDON (AP) — The British government said Friday that a criminal investigation has begun into P&O Ferries after the company fired almost 800 U.K.-based crew without warning so they could be replaced by cheaper contract staff.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Insolvency Service had opened “formal criminal and civil investigations.”

The Dubai-owned company has acknowledged it broke the law by not consulting unions before the mass firings on March 17. But chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite said there was no other way to stop the ferry operator from going under.

The British government has vowed to reverse the sackings but its option appear limited. It says it will introduce legislation that would force companies like P&O Ferries to pay the U.K. minimum wage at sea, as well as on land. It also has asked British ports to turn away boats carrying seafarers paid below the U.K. minimum wage, which went up Friday to 9.50 pounds ($12.45) an hour.

Hebblethwaite said the average pay of the ferries’ agency crew is 5.50 pounds ($7.20) an hour.

The company, a subsidiary of Dubai government-owned DP World, says the staff changes were needed to save the business and protect 2,200 other jobs after hundreds of millions of pounds in losses over the past two years.

But the move sparked outrage from politicians and unions, especially since P&O received millions of pounds of British government aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he welcomed the criminal investigation.

“I have called for the P&O chief executive to step down after he shamelessly told Parliament he had knowingly broken the law, and it is right the company is held to account for its actions,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)...

Associated Press

Donald Trump stored, showed off and refused to return classified documents, indictment says

An indictment charging former President Donald Trump with mishandling classified documents has been unsealed.

2 days ago

FILE - A bottle of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is displayed next to a Bad Spaniels dog toy in A...

Associated Press

Ruff day in court: Supreme Court sides with Jack Daniel’s in dispute with makers of dog toy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave whiskey maker Jack Daniel's reason to raise a glass, handing the company a new chance to win a trademark dispute with the makers of the Bad Spaniels dog toy.

3 days ago

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

6 arrested in alleged scheme to fraudulently collect millions in COVID aid meant for renters

Six people from Washington, Arizona and Texas have been arrested and accused of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars of COVID-19 aid from an assistance program meant for renters, federal prosecutors said.

3 days ago

FILE - Protesters stand outside of the Senate chamber at the Indiana Statehouse on Feb. 22, 2023, i...

Associated Press

LGBTQ+ Americans are under attack, Human Rights Campaign declares in state of emergency warning

The Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. on Tuesday.

5 days ago

FILE - People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington to listen to oral arguments in a...

Associated Press

Supreme Court opened the door to states’ voting restrictions. Now a new ruling could widen them.

Within hours of a U.S. Supreme Court decision dismantling a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, Texas lawmakers announced plans to implement a strict voter ID law that had been blocked by a federal court. Lawmakers in Alabama said they would press forward with a similar law that had been on hold.

5 days ago

Gavel (Pexels Photo)...

Associated Press

Ex-teacher sentenced to prison for making death threat against Arizona legislator

A former Tucson middle school teacher was sentenced Tuesday to 2 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to making a death threat against Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Spinal fusion surgery has come a long way, despite misconceptions

As Dr. Justin Field of the Desert Institute for Spine Care explained, “we've come a long way over the last couple of decades.”



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

UK opens criminal probe into P&O Ferries over crew firings