The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has said it has been “overwhelmed by the supportive message we’ve received” as it battles a media storm over its life-saving operations in the English Channel.
The charity's praise for its supporters follows widely repeated comments by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has accused the charity of becoming “a taxi service for illegal immigration”.
His comments were subsequently reported in newspapers including the Daily Mail.
This is the Ramsgate lifeboat today, rammed full.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 4, 2021
Sadly the wonderful RNLI in Kent has become a taxi service for illegal immigration, to the dismay of all involved.
What a state of affairs. pic.twitter.com/udqBi7ZVlW
The RNLI has strongly rejected the claims and defended its rescue operations.
It said: “Our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Our lifesavers are compelled to help those in need without judgement of how they came to be in the water. They have done so since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos.”
Its statement added: “We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the humanitarian work out volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress."
The charity has thanked its supporters for their backing during the media storm saying their “kindness means so much to us”.
Our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Our lifesavers are compelled to help those in need without judgement of how they came to be in the water. They have done so since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos. pic.twitter.com/iZY5Y8fofp— RNLI (@RNLI) July 5, 2021
The RNLI is the latest charity to have become embroiled in a social media storm following allegations made in the media and by influencers online.
Last week, the National Trust spoke out against “ludicrous” allegations, in The Spectator magazine by former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore, that it is rejecting job candidates if they voted for Brexit.
The heritage charity is to follow up its concerns with the Independent Press Standards Organisation.