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France fines UK ski coach €30,000 for teaching illegally


British ski instructor Simon Butler avoided prison but was fined €30,000 on Monday by the Criminal Court of Bonneville in Haute-Savoie for continuing to teach skiing illegally at the high-end resort of Megève despite multiple convictions.


The case
has triggered a lively debate in the United Kingdom, where it was claimed France was using labour laws to favour French instructors over British ones.
Butler (pictured, right, with his lawyer after the ruling) was present as the verdict was handed down. He said he was "very disappointed" and would appeal.
The judge added that, "If he does not pay, he will be forced to go to jail."
Butler, 51, who has been based in the swanky ski resort in the Alps for 32 ​​years, has been convicted five times by the Criminal Court of Bonneville for giving ski lessons without the necessary qualifications.  
Under French law, all foreign instructors have to pass the Eurotest, an integral part of the training of ski instructors in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria and the UK. The test involves completing a tough downhill slalom at racing speed.
The dispute centres on the fact that Butler qualified before the introduction of the rule stating that all non-French teachers had to pass the Eurotest.  Butler insists that his qualifications, which he achieved in 1985, are the equivalent of the Eurotest, giving him automatic "grandfather rights", whereby the pre-existing rules continue to be legal despite later regulatory changes.
Butler, who runs a holiday firm in the popular resort, has previously argued, "I have the highest qualifications of any ski instructor in France."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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