The Chief of Police defended how the force dealt with the incident, including the arrest of an innocent couple
The Sussex police chief said he was fully certain that a drone had been flown through Gatwick airport, acknowledging that the contradictory statements made by other officers in his forces “reinforced the chaos” caused by the incident.
Giles York, Sussex County Police Chief, also defended the decision to arrest a couple who were held for 36 hours before being released without charge, and apologized for the distress they caused.
Sussex police were criticized for handling a suspicious drone operation that caused the stop of the second largest airport in the UK when DCS Jason Tingley said there may have been no drone.
“I’m absolutely sure that a drone was flying all the way through when the airport was closed,” York told BBC Radio 4.
The officer who suggested otherwise “was trying to describe an investigative approach, which asks:” How can we prove the presence of a drone in the first place? ”
He then asked whether this uncertainty “increased the chaos” surrounding the incident. “Certainly that time has been inflated, but we have been able to confirm 115 reports [since then], of which 92 are credible people,” he said.
“Of course, we will launch our Sussex police planes at the time with the aim of investigating, in order to engage, in order to survey the area looking for the plane, so there may be a level of confusion there.”
York was also asked about the arrest of Paul Ghaith and Ellen Kirk, who were released without charge. The couple said they felt “completely violated” in the way they were treated, adding that their privacy and identities were “completely exposed” after being named in the media and their house was searched.
“I’m really sorry for what Gait did, but the reason we kept it so we could dispel everything in the first place.” New York said: “What could have been worse than his experience was to release him under investigation.”
Sussex Get, 47, and Kirk, 54, were held for 36 hours of questioning because of the chaos in Gatwick, but a telephone conversation with the employer at Gett was an argument.
York said. “It’s not that simple when you’re in the middle of something … it may affect the premise that there’s only one person involved if you think a simple phone call to one excuse can dispel such a complex investigation.”
York said military technology had been deployed at the airport, although it did not say whether the system should have been in place earlier. “I am grateful to the ministers for their support all the time,” he said.
York said he could not rule out a drone incident again, but the main priority was to check the safety of the aircraft taking off.
He said officers had searched 26 possible launch sites near Gatwick, but did not believe they had found the drone, believed to have been flown near the airport runways on December 19 and 20.