Rescued diver 'was on dry land all along

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Posted by on September 10, 2006 at 22:51:59:

A DIVER who claimed he had a miraculous escape after being lost at sea for 58 hours appears to have been staying on dry land during the entire search, police said yesterday.

Officers in Guernsey said Matthew Harvey was being investigated over suspicions that he boarded a ferry for mainland Britain shortly after being reported missing on a diving expedition on Saturday morning.

He then returned to Guernsey on a ferry on Monday afternoon and got back into the water and waited to be rescued, officers believe.

In the meantime, a huge search and rescue operation had been launched for the married 35-year-old in the Fermain Bay area.

Lifeboats, Coastguards and hundreds of local residents joined the search, but it was called off at 4pm on Monday - and his parents told he was probably dead.

But three hours later at 7pm he was plucked from the water by a passing yacht in the spot where he went diving.

He was believed to have survived three days at sea without food or water.

Chief Inspector Rory Hardy, of Guernsey Police, said: "We received information from a member of the public and a police force that Mr Harvey was seen in Britain over the weekend.

"The allegation is that he left the island by ferry on Saturday lunchtime after going for a dive around 8:30am and returned on Monday at about 5:30pm.

"We are examining whether there are any possible charges to be faced."

He added: "In summary he was not missing at sea or on the coasts of Guernsey as suggested."

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Harvey claimed he was dragged out by a strong tide after being knocked unconscious when he was hit by a boat.

He claimed he was left dazed and drifted around the east of the island towards Jersey and at one point was forced to clamber on to rocks.

After he was "saved" he spent two days in hospital suffering exhaustion and his father Dan, 66, was seen on local TV tearfully hugging the couple who pulled him on to their yacht.

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