People are donating money to build a Trump-style 'wall' in the English channel. But there's a big twist

Joanna Taylor
Wednesday 12 August 2020 13:30
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Picture:(Jon Washer/PA/Simon Harris/ GoFundMe)

People are donating to a fundraiser aiming to 'build a wall in the English Channel'.

The purpose of the project, which has so far attracted almost £2,000 in donations, is to "protect the United Kingdom from illegal immigrants", according to its GoFundMe description.

The description continues:

My name is Simon Harris, and I am a concerned and proud British citizen. In the last week or so, we have seen an unprecedented number of vessels crossing the English Channel, and it is clear that our border force needs help. 

I am proposing a border wall similar to what you would normally find in a swimming pool separating the lanes - except that this will be made out of a better quality plastic that is covered in a special adhesive that makes boats stick to it.  

But all is not quite as it first appears.

Firstly, there's the fact that while the plan Harris has outlined is certainly creative, it's not exactly viable.

The £10,000 projected cost of the project will apparently cover two hover crafts needed to install the border wall and the wages of a bouncer who will let 'legitimate boats' pass through it.

And secondly, if the name Simon Harris sounds familiar to you, that might be because he is the editor of satirical news website Southend News Network, which has fooled some pretty high-profile people.

In 2016, right-wing provocateur Katie Hopkins announced on her LBC show that the M25 motorway would be closed for a week because the Department of Health was running "the ultimate endurance race" along it. Her source? Southend News.

The following year, far-right commentator and alleged transphobe Milo Yiannopoulos earnestly discussed a fake Southend News story about a man awarded £150,000 in compensation after being refused a cervical smear test on the NHS on his show.

Harris has set up prank GoFundMe links before. Most recently, he raised almost £18,000 to 'save The Sun newspaper' with the money actually going to the Essex Coronavirus Action Urgent Appeal charity.

A "legal note" at the bottom of his current petition suggests that these funds might end up in a similar place.

In the event that this project runs into difficulties during the research and development stage, funds will be donated to a local project providing hot meals and activities to children from vulnerable families during the Summer Holidays in Essex.

The majority of donors do seem to be in on the joke.

People have left donations under names like 'Joris Bohnson', 'Hatey Hopkins' and 'BarnardCastle EyeTestCentre'.

But some of the donations have been left anonymously, so who knows...?

Comments left on the petition include:

We need a wall to keep us Gammons in. That's what it's for, isn't it?

And:

PROTECT ARE BOARDERS!

Indy100 has contacted Simon Harris to see if he can shed on further light on whether the petition is indeed a prank or whether he will be taking his 'swimming pool lanes' idea to the top.

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