France fines Briton 30,000 euros for illegal ski instruction

16th June 2014, Comments 0 comments

A French court ordered a British ski instructor on Monday to pay a 30,000 euro ($41,000) fine for teaching without a licence but ignored a prosecutor's request that he face jail time.

The case against Simon Butler, who has been teaching clients how to ski in the French Alps for more than 30 years, goes to the heart of Europe's labour laws and has sparked outrage in his native country.

Despite having the highest-rated British ski instructor's licence, Butler has refused to obtain qualifications needed to teach in France, in the face of repeated convictions and fines.

The court in Bonneville ordered the fine on Monday, with the judge warning: "If he doesn't pay, he could face prison."

Prosecutors had called for Butler, 51, to be sentenced to a year in prison and fined 10,000 euros.

After the ruling, Butler said he was "very disappointed" and would appeal.

Butler says France's refusal to recognise British certificates violates EU laws on freedom of movement, in particular a 2005 directive on Europe-wide recognition of qualifications.

Before the trial, Butler vowed to move his business -- which employs 28 people and hosts about 100 guests a week from December to April in the resort of Megeve -- if he is convicted.

The trial has sparked consternation in Britain, leading the French embassy in London to deny there was a "piste war" taking place in the French Alps.

London Mayor Boris Johnson called the dispute "a complete, naked, shameless and unrepentant breach -- by the French -- of the principles of the European Single Market."

Butler alleged he is being targeted in a protectionist campaign to drive away foreign instructors and have them replaced with French ones.

© 2014 AFP

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