Former Daily Mirror Northern Ireland editor Greg Harkin has made
legal history by challenging Manchester Airport’s right to take
pictures of passengers on their way to Northern Ireland.
He successfully challenged the practice citing the Data Protection Act.
Harkin was Northern Ireland editor of The People when he first mounted his challenge.
was travelling back to Belfast from Bulgaria via Manchester Airport
when he was made aware that the image-capture system was in place.
protested, only to be told that he had to have his photo taken to get
on the flight. Under the system, pictures taken of passengers after
check-in are checked using a barcode reader on their boarding pass at
the departure gate.
In a letter to Harkin, the airport
“unreservedly apologised” for his treatment on 19 August last year and
said: “The system is designed to be optional, image capture is not
Harkin became Daily Mirror northern Ireland editor
in September, but left after just three months to become an editorial
director at the Derry Journal .
He said: “This is an important
victory for passengers from across Northern Ireland who have endured
many years of discrimination simply because they are from here.
I accept the need for security at airports, especially with the
continuing threat from international terrorism, I strongly believed
that ordering passengers to have their picture taken without explaining
the reasons behind such requests was immoral and downright rude.
airport has now claimed the measures have nothing to do with terrorism
laws, but are designed to meet Customs & Excise standards.
know this issue has struck a chord with people from all walks of life
in Northern Ireland, from businessmen who have to travel to and from
Britain on a regular basis, to mothers left furious at having to have
pictures taken of their young children.”
Harkin believes the case has implications for other airports such as Bristol, Liverpool and Gatwick.