Guernsey diver rescued 'after two days at sea' had been in the UK

A missing diver who sparked a two-day air and sea search had faked his disappearance. Thirty five-year-old Matthew Harvey from Guernsey, who was rescued by a yacht on Monday, led authorities to believe he’d been at sea for two days after being hit by a powerboat. Instead he was in Poole in Dorset. It’s believed he returned to Guernsey and had only been in the water for an hour when found, apparently unconscious, by a passing yacht.

The owners of the yacht, a 42ft Moody, had been on a cruise from Brittany when they spotted Mr Harvey near Fermain Bay. ‘It was just incredible,’ said skipper Steve Westward. ‘We saw something black and flapping and went to investigate, thinking it was a large fish. However, we soon saw it was an unconscious diver floating on his back.’ Unable to get him onboard, Steve went in the water while his wife Anne-Marie, who had put out a Mayday, took the helm. A fishing boat came to their aid and the diver was taken ashore to hospital.

While Mr Harvey’s wife and family rejoiced his ‘miraculous survival’, details emerged of how he’d been struck by a boat while out on a solo dive on Saturday morning. Apparently he’d lost his mask and regulator, passed out among rocks in a gully for two days then regained consciousness and tried to swim to safety. In fact, Mr Harvey was on the Condor ferry to Poole, as was confirmed by CCTV.

Channel Islanders are angry that Mr Harvey allowed an air and sea search to go on for two days. ‘He ought to be made to pay for the rescue operation,’ said Tony Rive from Guernsey. ‘It’s farcical. Nobody believed the story from day one. Can you believe that someone would be in the water for 58 hours and then be rescued from the place he went in? Everybody was suspicious.’

In a statement Guernsey Police said ‘For some of the time Mr Harvey was reported as missing, he was in the UK. He was not missing at sea or on the coast of Guernsey. The matter is complex and the full facts are as of yet not established.’

Photo by Tony Rive: St Peter Port lifeboat searches for Matthew Harvey