UK public official allowed on plane with knife

Nov. 5, 2008
Personal gaffe leads parliament member to call for improved airport security

AN MP who accidentally took a knife on to a plane is to demand assurances that airport security has been improved, as she leads a House of Commons debate.

Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) took a fruit knife with her on a two-week holiday in Corsica.

The former Health Minister had forgotten it was in a side pocket of her bag, which she had on board as hand luggage.

She discovered the knife, which has a three-inch blade, after arriving in Corsica, and was shocked that she had ever been allowed to take it on to the plane.

Ms Stuart, who had flown from Gatwick Airport, contacted airport owners BAA to tell them what had happened. Eventually, BAA told her it had retrained the airport's security staff to ensure nothing like this could happen again. She is today leading a House of Commons debate to urge ministers to launch their own investigation and ensure the airport's security had improved.

Ms Stuart said: "I have not found the promises made by BAA very reassuring. I will be asking the Government to make its own inquiries, because I want to know that Gatwick has taken the issue seriously and has actually improved its training and procedures.

"I made a mistake when I forgot the knife was in my bag. But it is very worrying that it got through security in this way.

"When I first tried to tell them about it they dealt with it as a PR problem. Then they made promises to me about making improvements, but frankly I don't feel reassured."

Staff at Gatwick also failed to identify replica bombs carried through security by undercover transport inspectors from Brussels, according to reports.

The results of the European Commission security checks have not officially been made public but Ms Stuart said they suggested the airport continues to have problems with security.

She said: "I believed the Commission's findings should be published."

BAA has apologised to Ms Stuart and held its own investigation.