Air bosses 'complacent' after People's expose

The Sunday People: investigation into airport security highlighted lapse

Neither British Airways nor the British Airports Authority has bothered to contact the Sunday People after the newspaper last weekend exposed how easy it was to carry weapons onto a BA jet.

Editor Neil Wallis expected his investigator, Roger Insall, who carried the stiletto, dagger and mini-cleaver onto a return flight from Heathrow to Manchester, and photographer David New to be closely questioned by BA and BAA on how security checks failed to pick up the presence of the weapons, even after Insall brandished them in the the jet’s cabin.

"I’m amazed that they didn’t want to know how on earth we managed to do this," said Wallis. "It suggests complacency. You would have thought they would have been banging on the door of my office first thing on Monday morning or ringing up on Saturday night asking to talk to Insall. We haven’t heard a word.

"They are just paying lip service to security and God forbid that something else doesn’t happen that makes them rue that day."

Wallis explained how easy an operation it had been to set up. His team saw the state-of-the-art weapons for sale on the internet on Tuesday, bought them on Thursday and boarded the plane with them the next day.

Even though the firm selling them boasts they are undetectable by conventional anti-terrorist measures, Wallis said that because two were made of stainless steel they should have shown up on X-ray machines.

Insall and New walked out of the arrivals hall at Manchester, turned round and walked back into the departures lounge, going through security at each airport.

Wallis said: "It was completely outrageous. This was a packed commuter jet with 160 passengers aboard – exactly the sort of plane that terrorists would target.

"One of these things fits inside a wallet but if you X-ray the wallet, you are going to see this big metal object and you would think that curiosity alone would prompt somebody to say, ‘Can I see what that is?’

"Next time, it may not be my journalists who go on a plane with these sort of items; it may be a terrorist."

The BAA told the People: "Security at Heathrow is among the best in the world and we are concerned to hear of the items you carried on board. We will follow up the issues with the Department of Transport."

BA said it was very concerned.

"We will liaise with the BAA to find what can be done to prevent such knives getting on board aircraft," said its spokesman.


By Jean Morgan

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