UK Journalists Expose Security Lapses at Manchester Airport

LONDON -- Security at Britain's third largest airport in the northern city of Manchester has been highlighted as woefully inadequate by a BBC documentary to be screened on Tuesday. An undercover reporter posing as a security officer at Manchester Airport witnessed colleagues knowingly using faulty metal detectors and fiddling bag search figures, the documentary claimed.

The programme follows undercover journalist Michelle Cox, who worked at the airport for 10 weeks.

The BBC said Cox was encouraged to flout strict Department for Transport rules on the number of passengers' bags to be searched.

On one occasion, out of around 1,000 passengers passing arriving at the airport from Pakistan, there were only three random bag searches.

"Michelle was told by colleagues to exaggerate the figures, with one workmate openly declaring, 'We cheat'," a BBC spokesman said two days before the programme foes on the air.

"Michelle also discovered planes left open and unattended on the tarmac overnight with easy access provided by the steps, which had been left attached, contrary to security rules," he said.

The BBC also claims the film will show a metal detector failing to sound when a knife and gun were passed through it as part of a test.

"The safety of the travelling public and our employees is Manchester Airport's highest priority," said an airport spokesman in response.

"Manchester Airport's procedures, systems and equipment are part of a robust effective defence system comprising several different levels, which changes and evolves as necessary," he said.

"We take any allegations of shortcomings extremely serious and any breaches in procedure are rectified immediately," he added.

Security at Britain's, and many of the world's airports has been stepped up since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.