French man arrested at UK airport over ‘firearm’ – police

Police evacuate the North Terminal of London’s Gatwick airport after arresting a man from France on suspicion of firearms offences.

GATWICK AIRPORT, NEAR LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (NOVEMBER 14, 2015) (ITN) – Police evacuated the North Terminal at Britain’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, which is 30 miles south of London, on Saturday (November 14) after what they described as “suspicious actions by a man who discarded an item at the airport”.

The man was arrested and bomb disposal experts were called to investigate the item before carrying out a small controlled explosion. Local police said the man was from Vendome in France.

“We are investigating the circumstances of the incident and it is too early to say what the item may be,” said Sussex Police Detective Superintendent Nick May in a statement. “However, given the events in Paris … there is heightened awareness around any such incident and it is best that we treat the matter in all seriousness.”

A statement on the Sussex Police website confirmed that police were called to the airport at approximately 0930GMT the suspicious behaviour of a man on the ‘landside’ of the terminal. He hadn’t checked in or passed through any security checks.

The man from France was arrested at the scene on suspicion of firearms offences. Personal items were recovered including what “appears to be a firearm”, Sussex Police said, adding it was determining the viability of the weapon.

Reports in the British media have suggested the man approached the Easyjet check-in desk carrying two guns, before being challenged by staff and chased out of the building by police.

As of 1600GMT, the terminal had re-opened and passengers and staff were being allowed back into the building.

However, the earlier evacuation did cause travel chaos for worried passengers who said were left in the dark about the status of their flights.

“We haven’t been told anything by our airline, or anything. I have just been listening to the radio but they are just saying that the terminal is closed and that is it really. We are just going to go to the south terminal and hopefully can a transfer later today,” said one passenger who was due to fly to Goa in the evening.

Despite the frustrations, most of the passengers understood the need for the evacuation, in light of Friday (November 14) night’s attacks in Paris that have killed at least 127 people.

“I think it is the right thing (to do). You can’t really say it is over-reacting given everything that has happened yesterday in France, as well. It is better to be safe than sorry isn’t it, but of course nobody wants to be delayed and out in the rain, like most of them,” said a female passenger outside the terminal building.

In evacuation took place as British Prime Minister David Cameron said the threat to Britain remained “severe” after the Paris attacks.

Cameron did not raise the threat level to its highest “critical” level, which would have meant an attack is expected imminently, after discussing the attacks at an emergency response committee in London