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Jail term call in ski teacher trial

Prosecutors have called for a highly qualified France-based British ski instructor to be jailed for flouting labour laws

PROSECUTORS have called for a highly qualified France-based British ski instructor to be jailed for a year for flouting French labour laws.

They told the court in Bonneville, Haute-Savoie, that Simon Butler, 51, who runs Simon Butler Skiing, should be jailed and fined €10,000 because, they say, he does not have the correct qualifications to work as a ski instructor in France.

Eight months of the prison term may be suspended if he is convicted.

Mr Butler and his entire team have level three or four certificates issued by the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) required by Britain to teach skiing on slopes like those in Megève.

But, despite teaching skiing in France for three decades, he does not possess a Eurotest certificate.

France issues certificates from the Ecole du Ski Francaise (ESF), which includes a Eurotest element, as do qualifications issued in Italy, Germany and - these days - Britain. It does not automatically recognise British equivalents.

Mr Butler, 51, was arrested along with two members of his staff in February in Megève, near Mont Blanc, and accused of breaching French law by teaching skiing without proper qualifications.

Mr Butler and his legal team argue that the French refusal to recognise British qualifications violates EU laws on freedom of movement, in particular a 2005 directive on Europe-wide recognition of qualifications.

He argues that “in terms of its level of qualification”, he does not need to have the Eurotest, insisting that his qualifications, which he has held since 1985, are equivalent to the Eurotest.

But prosecutor Pierre-Yves Michau insisted that Mr Butler “simply does not meet the conditions to teach in France”.

He said: “There is no system of equivalence between different European qualifications. We could not continue to let him work with impunity.”

The court's judgement will be handed down on June 16.

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