Representatives of the Hayley Ferry Ltd pleaded guilty to a number of charges at Portsmouth Magistrates Court this week

A Hampshire ferry company has been fined
more than £12,000 after it carried too many passengers.

Three representatives from Hayling Ferry
Ltd, the master, operator and owner, were each charged with four counts of
sailing without a valid passenger certificate and two charges of sailing with
insufficient liferafts onboard. 

The group pleaded guilty to all charges at
Portsmouth Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The master of Tina Marie, Geoffrey Oliver, aged 58, was fined £900, plus costs of
£400. Frida Edwards, the vessel’s owner, aged 54, was fined £600, plus costs of

While the operator, Hayling Ferry Ltd, was
fined £6,000, plus £4,000 in costs.

The 11m long vessel was used as a ferry
between Hayling Island and Eastney, across the entrance to Langstone Harbour.

The vessel is certified to carry 12
passengers and two crew, however on four occasions in January and February this
year, the boat landed between 16 and 27 passengers.

In most cases, the majority of passengers
were children returning home from schools in Portsmouth.

On all the occasions listed in court, the
vessel had inadequate lifesaving equipment for all the adults and children on

In a statement on the company’s Facebook
page, Frida and Tina Edwards said: “We would like to assure
you that at no time did we, the owners, encourage this practice and we were not
aware that it had happened until the MCA
contacted us with notice of the prosecution.

“We have no
doubt that Mr Oliver thought he was doing the right thing. He was in a
difficult position, as he did not want to leave children unattended on the
pontoon. That said, proceeding with the journeys with too many passengers was
not the right decision and we fully supported the MCA’s actions against us.” 

Menawhile, the MCA’s captain
Amir Esmiley, said: “There was a clear lack of concern for the safety of
passengers which was made worse as the majority of people on the four crossings
were children.

“The limits on the number of passengers that
can be on a vessel are there to ensure that everyone has a proper lifejacket
and a place in a liferaft.”

Image credit: Facebook/Hayling Ferry Ltd