Friday 24 January 2020

Van sparks major security alert at Gatwick Airport

Gatwick airport
Gatwick airport

Tom Pugh

A van which sparked a major security alert at Gatwick Airport was not linked to terrorist activity and nothing of concern was found inside it, police said tonight.

But two men who apparently dumped the untaxed, uninsured, unregistered blue Renault at the West Sussex airport's North Terminal short-stay car park are being sought.

Sussex Police said the pair were seen to push up a barrier to gain access and then parked the van on the ground floor of the car park.

A check with the firm whose name was on the van revealed that it had disposed of it six months ago and further checks showed it should not have been on the road.

Tonight, following several controlled explosions, the all-clear was given at the airport and restrictions started to be lifted and resources stood down.

A police spokesman said: "The circumstances were enough to raise suspicions and it was thought that there might be something quite heavy in the back of the vehicle.

"A call broadcast across the airport failed to locate the two men and, as a precaution, an explosive ordnance disposal unit was called in."

Bomb disposal experts were drafted in to the airport at around 5pm and several controlled explosions were carried out between 7pm and 8.30pm to gain access to the van.

Inspector Gary Medland, of Gatwick Police, said: "We are aware that the closure of the car park caused some disruption to people travelling to and from the North Terminal by vehicle, but this was a most unusual event and the safety of those visiting and working at the airport must take priority.

"However, working with the airport operator we were able to ensure that other areas of the airport were, in the main, unaffected by the incident and flights continued as normal.

"There is nothing to link the vehicle with terrorist activity and there is a strong possibility that the two men dumped the van as they headed for a flight.

"Inquiries are under way to establish whether this was the case and we are obviously very keen to talk to the men involved."

PA Media

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