United Kingdom

Brexit: British man's Peri-Peri sauce taken by Spanish border police

A British expat's Nandos will be a little less cheeky after his Peri-Peri sauce was confiscated by Spanish border guards under new Brexit rules.

Joseph Lathey, who lives in the Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción but works in Gibraltar, was told the medium-heat sauce couldn't cross into Spain with him because it contained processed vegetables.

He was also ordered to bin samosas, flatbreads and spices he had picked up on The Rock or else take them back. 

'I turned up at the border and there's a guard that's always on duty there, so I opened my bag, just as a courtesy really, just to show him that I didn't have anything,' Lathey, 27, recalled.

'Normally they just wave you through, But this time he casually started going through things and picking stuff up. He seemed a bit confused, which I was a bit taken aback by because that never happens.

'So then he asked me to step aside and he took me over to the guys who usually check the tobacco and the alcohol.

'They took my bag and they started going through it, and pulling everything out and reading the backs of labels.

'He just started pulling stuff out and said 'no, no, no, no… but you can have these two things,' and pulled out two bags of spice that I had and said 'that's the only things that you can keep'. 

A British expat's Nandos will be a little less cheeky after his Peri-Peri sauce was confiscated by Spanish border guards under new Brexit rules. Joseph Lathey, who lives in the Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción but works in Gibraltar, was told the medium-heat sauce couldn't cross into Spain with him because it contained processed vegetables

Lathey estimates that he was only able to keep £6 worth of his £43 shop.

Instead of binning the rest, he put it up on Facebook for £20 and a Gibraltar resident took him up on the offer.  

'The border police wanted to take the samosas, because they said it had processed vegetables in it,' Lathey said.

'There was a bag of cloves, chilli powder, some teriyaki rib rub or something like that, and the flatbread.

'The PERi-PERi Nando's sauce was in there, too. It had onion puree on the ingredients and that's one of the things they said to me: "Look, it's got processed vegetables on it, you can't have it".'

He added: 'I've not actually had Nando's PERi-PERi sauce before and I was really looking forward to trying it.'

Nando's popular Peri-Peri sauce was among the items Spanish border guards said Lathey could not bring with him into Spain from Gibraltar. The sauce contained processed vegetables, which the guards said were not permitted even for personal consumption

Lathey is in little doubt that the increased strictness at the border is because of Brexit.  

'Yes, 100 percent,' he said. 'Definitely.' 

Lathey, who wanted the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union, believed that the new rules only prohibited meat and dairy.

Yet despite being convinced that the border guards were unsure of the rules themselves, Lathey felt powerless to question their decisions as all the legal documentation was in Spanish.

He said: 'When it comes to the border police, you can't really argue with them.

'If they tell you no, then that's it, you're not going to get over the border with it, unless you've got a lawyer with you – how am I supposed to argue my case?

'All the documentation they had was in Spanish.

'I'm fairly fluent in Spanish, I've been here for about 20 years… but I'm not used to reading legal jargon from a document written by the Andalusian government.

Lathey estimates that he was only able to keep £6 worth of his £43 shop (pictured), which featured several items that included processed vegetables which the Spanish border guards said were not allowed to enter the EU

'It's very difficult for me to read and understand at a glance.'

Lathey continued: 'The customs officer clearly didn't know any of these laws off by heart, he was having to reference the papers he had, and he seemed as confused by the legal jargon as I was.'

And if the rules are that strict, Lathey expects it will lead to a surge in smuggling. 

'Obviously, we can buy everything that we need in Spain, there's no problem there,' he said.

'The thing is that nice things that we want – your Cadbury's chocolate and your digestive biscuits… all that kind of stuff – you can only get in Gibraltar.

'What that will mean going forward: I can guarantee you that everyone is going to carry on bringing those things through, they're just going to find imaginative ways of doing it.'

An advisory note from the Gibraltar Government warns that all meat and milk will be unable to enter the EU from the peninsula, but makes no mention of processed vegetables.

In a statement to the local press, the authority suggested it was unaware of any such prohibition.

It reads: 'The Government's understanding is that EU law specifically exempts plant products intended for personal consumption from official controls on introduction to the EU.

Instead of binning the items he was not allowed to take home to Spain, Lathey put them up on Facebook for £20 and a Gibraltar resident took him up on the offer, covering some of the cost of his shop

'Therefore, the Government will be seeking to clarify this matter with the relevant Spanish authorities.'

Lathey, who moved to Spain as a child from Torquay, Devon, also called on the Spanish government to make things easier for English-speaking expats.

'I would ask the Spanish government to provide more information in English, or any full stop,' he said.

'It seems laughable, really, given the amount of economy that comes over from expats like myself who work in Gibraltar and live in Spain.

'It means that we pay our rent in Spain, we pay our taxes in Spain, we go out for food in Spain, we pay significant amounts of money into the economy here in La Línea.

'Ninety per cent of the questions that I get asked are things like how do I become a resident? How do I become legally set up here? How do I pay my taxes?

'All of this stuff should be super, super clear and it's just completely not the case here whatsoever.' 

Lathey's case comes a week after Dutch police sparked fury after officers were filmed laughing at a British truck driver while confiscating his ham sandwiches in line with post-Brexit import rules 

Dutch customs officers can be seen confiscating dozens of sandwiches and packets of meat from people arriving via ferry from the United Kingdom at Hoek van Holland, the Netherlands

Lathey's case comes a week after Dutch police sparked fury after officers were filmed laughing at a British truck driver while confiscating his ham sandwiches in line with post-Brexit import rules.

'Welcome to the Brexit, sir,' one of the officers says mockingly in the video of the incident, as the driver pleads: 'Can you take the meat and leave me the bread?'

Footage from Dutch TV showed the border officials confiscating sandwiches and other foodstuffs from drivers entering the Netherlands from the UK. 

Dutch officers can be heard in the footage explaining the new post-Brexit rules for drivers crossing into the EU, which forbids bringing in certain foods that originated in the UK. 

The EU does not allow for meat, meat products, milk or dairy products to be brought in from countries outside the union for 'personal consumption'. 

With the United Kingdom having left the EU on January 1, the rules now apply to people crossing the Channel.

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