Instructor claims French are at war

25th February 2014, by Abi Butcher

British ski instructor Simon Butler says the French only want the ESF to teach in France

British ski instructor Simon Butler says the French only want the ESF to teach in France

Simon Butler, one of seven British ski instructors in Megève last week, has said there is a “war” going on in the French Alps.

Mr Butler was arrested at the bottom of a chairlift in Megève on Tuesday last week, along with six other instructors working for his company Simon Butler Skiing. He and two other instructors, Mark Gibbs and Alex Casey, were kept in custody overnight, accused of teaching without the correct qualifications under French law.

The story has completely divided the ski industry — and commentators. Even London Mayor Boris Johnson has waded in, saying it is “virtually impossible” for a UK national to set up a ski school in the French Alps and that France is defying “every basic principle of the [European] Common Market”.

Simon Butler told the Daily Telegraph that the French and the ESF don’t want British instructors in Megève, or France, and claims he and his staff all have the correct qualifications under EU and international law.

“I have been operating in Megève as a professional for 31 years but on Tuesday I was heading up the mountain with some guests when I was stopped and two gendarmes appeared in front of me. They ordered me to go with them or they would put me in handcuffs,” Mr Butler told the Daily Telegraph.

“I told them I was qualified and I had the MOU stamp which gives me the right to work freely anywhere in Europe.”

The other four instructors employed by Simon Butler and also arrested last Tuesday — Philip May, Jim Wilkins, Adam Alder-Cox and Ross Medcalf — were released on bail. All face charges of teaching without the correct qualifications and the company has been ordered to stop teaching for six months which Mr Butler says is “devastating” for his business.

The court case is set for 7 April and if found guilty, the ski instructors face a possible three-month jail sentence. Mr Butler, who has been arrested twice before, is not allowed to leave France.

In France, ski instructors must have the Level 4 International Ski Teaching Diploma (ISTD), but under the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) an individual can start to teach on snow in Scotland with Level 2. There are four grades with Level 1 being the lowest and Level 4 the highest and equivalent to the ISTD.

While Simon Butler has BASI Level 4, some of his instructors do not — but he refutes the charges saying he has all the correct paperwork to teach in France.

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