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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Joe Thomas

Fugitives using Merseyside 'backdoor' to plot secret trips home

Birkenhead is viewed as a ‘back door’ for fugitives seeking to sneak back into England, it has been claimed.

The suggestion was made on the podcast of an ex-detective hunting Liverpool’s most wanted man. An unnamed source, said to be a UK Border Force official, argued the ferry from Belfast to Wirral was being exploited by criminals, some using fake passports.

In response the Home Office said it takes “security at the border extremely seriously”.

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Former Scotland Yard detective Peter Bleksley has launched a personal manhunt for Kevin Parle, who detectives want to speak to in connection with two Merseyside murders. He believes the 6ft 6in fugitive could be working as a henchman for a criminal kingpin operating from southern Spain.

As well as questioning ongoing rumours Parle is dead, Mr Bleksley has said he has received reports he may have visited the UK in recent years. He said he asked a Border Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, how this could be possible.

Ex-Hunted Star Peter Bleksley with a poster of Kevin Parle. (Pic Andrew Teebay). (Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

With EU nationals able to travel across parts of the EU without showing a passport, he was told: “Ireland and Northern Ireland are two countries, same land mass but they operate as two different countries. It is what we in the Home Office call a Common Travel Area… Kevin Parle could fly into Dublin as a wanted man in the UK but not be stopped at all.

“We don’t share information with each other. He can then quite happily get into a cab in Dublin and can ask to be taken to Belfast. From there, it’s a ferry to Birkenhead and he hasn’t had to show his passport. Criminals use that back door way into the UK a lot.”

According to the website of Stena Line, which operates routes between Merseyside and Belfast: “British or Irish citizens travelling on our Irish Sea routes do not need a passport to travel to Britain or Ireland but are advised to take a form of identity.” The route has been described as a popular one for illegal entry into the UK in cases heard in Liverpool Crown Court.

In response to the claims aired on Manhunt: Finding Kevin Parle, a Home Office spokesperson said: “We take security at the border extremely seriously, and can refuse entry if we are not satisfied that an individual will be acceptable to the immigration authorities in another part of the Common Travel Area. We continue to work closely with Ireland to identify and tackle those who seek to abuse common travel arrangements, including through operational co-operation and data sharing.”

Detectives on Merseyside would like to speak to Parle, from Mossley Hill, over the shooting murders of Liam Kelly and Lucy Hargreaves. Mr Kelly was just 16 when he was shot dead on Grafton Street, Dingle, in 2004.

Parle was questioned in connection with the teenager’s murder but was released on bail - which he failed to answer. He is the subject of a European Arrest Warrant in relation to that investigation.

The following year, 22-year-old mum Lucy Hargreaves was shot as she slept on a living room sofa in her Walton home. Petrol was then poured around the room and set alight. Detectives also want to speak to him as part of inquiries into the mum’s killing.

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