Thousands sign petition to keep aid worker out of jail

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking the UK Government to help an aid worker from Leeds facing jail in France for trying to smuggle afour-year-old girl out of a refugee camp in Calais.

Rob Lawrie was arrested at the French border as he tried to bring Afghanrefugee Bahar Ahmadi to relatives in England last month.

Mr Lawrie, who was delivering aid to a camp known as "The Jungle", willappear in court in Boulogne in January next year and faces up to five years in prison.

Almost 18,000 people have signed a petition to keep Mr Lawrie out of jail Credit: Website

More than 17,000 people have signed the "Spare Rob Lawrie from prison"petition, which calls on Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to speak to the French authorities about clemency in Mr Lawrie's case.

Jim Innes, who created the campaign, wrote on the 38 Degrees website: "Rob shouldn't be treated as a criminal but as an ordinary man trying to do the right thing in extraordinary circumstances."

More than 700 people have also joined a Facebook group called "Support Rob Lawrie".

Mr Lawrie said he felt "truly humbled" by the support he had received fromacross the world and urged people to help refugees like Bahar - who is known as Bru.

Refugees at the camp in Calais, also known as the "New Jungle" Credit: Press Association

He has also set up a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to help bring Bahar to the UK and to build shelters for others refugees facing winter in the camps.

Mr Lawrie said on the website:

Mr Lawrie said he was an "idiot" for his actions, but said he acted on his paternal instincts.

He described The Jungle refugee camp as a "chemical dump" and compared it to a cross between a Mumbai tip and Glastonbury Festival after four days of rain.

Four-year-old Bahar Credit: ITV News

Mr Lawrie described how Bahar's father put his daughter to bed in a storagecompartment in his van and said he felt "elated" at the thought of being ableto bring the little girl to her family in this country.

But he was stopped by police because, unknown to him, two refugees had stowed away in the back of his van. Bahar was returned to her father in the camp.