Airport employee was behind Gatwick drone chaos, source claims

Disgruntled airport EMPLOYEE was behind Gatwick drone chaos that caused Christmas misery for thousands, police believe

  • Sussex police believe an airport employee could have been behind drone chaos 
  • December incident saw 1000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected
  • A Whitehall source said the disgruntled employee theory was ‘running high’
  • The force was slammed over its handling of the event case wrongly arresting two

Rod Ardehali For Mailonline

The drone attack that brought chaos to Gatwick airport before Christmas is thought to have been an ‘inside job’, according to Whitehall sources. 

Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected. 

Sussex police were blasted over their mishandling of the affair after they arrested the wrong couple and added to confusion by suggesting there may have been no drone at all, before backtracking. 

The drone attack that brought chaos to Gatwick airport before Christmas is thought to have been an 'inside job', according to Whitehall sources. Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

The drone attack that brought chaos to Gatwick airport before Christmas is thought to have been an 'inside job', according to Whitehall sources. Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

The drone attack that brought chaos to Gatwick airport before Christmas is thought to have been an ‘inside job’, according to Whitehall sources. Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

They have now collected 130 witness accounts, The Times reports, and made more than 1,000 door-to-door inquiries in the investigation.

The source has: ‘ [The drone pilot] knew the blind spots for it, where it could not be “hit”. It was clearly someone with really good knowledge of Gatwick, someone who had worked there. Hypothetically it could have been a disgruntled employee,’ 

Footage of the drone showed the craft hovering near the control tower, where workers were unable to film it because of a ban on mobile phones.

Gatwick staff on the ground also claimed that it appeared to be taunting them by flying low overhead and flashing its light in their direction.

It is thought the drone hid behind buildings and structures beyond the reach of military-grade counterdrone equipment brought it to end the chaos. 

Sussex police were blasted over their mishandling of the affair after they arrested the wrong couple and added to confusion by suggesting there may have been no drone at all, before backtracking (clip from footage capturing the drone in fight)

Sussex police were blasted over their mishandling of the affair after they arrested the wrong couple and added to confusion by suggesting there may have been no drone at all, before backtracking (clip from footage capturing the drone in fight)

Sussex police were blasted over their mishandling of the affair after they arrested the wrong couple and added to confusion by suggesting there may have been no drone at all, before backtracking (clip from footage capturing the drone in fight)

A second source backed the theory and said the thinking that it was someone who had good knowledge of the airport layout is ‘running high’. 

Sussex police has borrowed resources from the London Met and three other forces to help with the case. 

It comes as the no-fly zone for drones around airports is to be extended following the disruption at Gatwick in December, the government says. 

It comes after it was reported yesterday that hundreds of thousands of people living near airports are to be banned from flying drones at home.

Alongside plans for new ‘stop and search’ powers to tackle pilots of rogue drones and model aircraft, the current 0.6 mile (1km) ‘no fly zone’ around runways will be extended to just over three miles (5km). 

Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

Police believe a former airport employee was responsible for the December 19 incident that saw 1,000 flights cancelled and 140,000 passengers affected

The limit, which air traffic controllers insist is needed to prevent collisions with passenger jets, will be introduced on March 13. Those who ignore it will face up to five years in jail.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will say: ‘The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act.

‘We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.

‘We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place.

‘Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.’ 

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