John Vasey to Sue

I will sue over jail nightmare Mar 3 2005

By Matt Casey, The Evening Chronicle

Lorry driver John Vasey plans to sue French authorities over his 14-month prison ordeal on a drug-smuggling charge.

On the second anniversary of his arrest this month, he now believes the inquiry is almost completed and he will finally be cleared.

That will allow him to sue the French government for compensation for the time he spent in prison and the loss of his business.

Today Mr Vasey, 44, said: "I still feel very bitter about what happened. My time in prison was at times horrendous, a bit of a nightmare, really.

"I’m still getting my life back together. I’ve got my own flat, my freedom and I’m driving for someone else.

"I’m in regular contact with my solicitor in France and I don’t expect to hear anything from the French authorities until May 3, which will be a year after I was released.

"I don’t expect the French authorities to take any further action and I expect to be informed that that is the end of the matter.

"When that happens the French authorities should return the 5,000 euros in bail I had to pay on my release.

“Then I will consider suing them for the loss of my liberty for 14 months and for the loss of my business.”

Mr Vasey had protested his innocence since he was arrested and charged with smuggling £2.5m of cannabis over the border from Spain.

He was expecting to be jailed for five years because French law says a driver has legal responsibility for every package on his lorry.

Newcastle lawyer Clive McKeag, who was recruited to fight for Mr Vasey’s freedom, has said he believes he was the fall guy for an international drug-smuggling gang.

While in jail Mr Vasey lost his home and trucking business. His marriage also broke down as his parents, Ken, 73, and Mary, 68, of Lambton, Washington, and other family campaigned relentlessly for his freedom.

Since his release he has moved into his own flat in Rickleton Village, Washington, and has regular contact with his nine-year-old son David.

Mr Vasey is now a fervent supporter of the Justice for Drivers campaign which, along with his family and friends, fought for his release.

Justice for Drivers seeks changes in foreign laws which it says keep putting innocent truckers in prison all over Europe.