A Frenchman is being held on suspicion of firearms offences after a security alert closed Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal today (Saturday, November 14).
The 41-year-old man from Vendôme was arrested at the scene at the time of the report on suspicion of firearms offences. He was ‘landside’ at the airport and had not checked in or passed through any passport or security checks.
Police were called at around 9.30am following suspicious actions by a man who discarded an item in a bin at the airport. Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists were called to the airport to investigate the item and carried out a small controlled explosion.
Personal items and what appears to be a firearm were recovered and have been removed for forensic examination. However, the viability of the weapon has yet to be established.
Passengers and staff are finally being allowed back in the terminal building, some six hours after they were evacuated.
Detective Superintendent Nick May said: “The man is being interviewed as we try to determine the circumstances of the incident, but at this time it is too early to say what his intentions, if any, were.
“However, given the events in Paris on Friday evening, there is heightened awareness around any such incident and it is best that we treat the matter in all seriousness.
“We are aware that there is concern about what has happened in France, but the general threat level remains the same and people should be aware as usual of anyone acting suspiciously and report any concerns immediately.”
A Gatwick spokesperson said: “Following a full and thorough search by the police, we are now able to re-open our North Terminal to passengers.
“Passengers should check with their airlines for information about their journey.
“Our priority is always the safety and welfare of our passengers and extra Gatwick staff are on hand to assist those who have experienced significant disruption to their journey today.
“We are working with our airlines to return North Terminal to usual operations. South Terminal is operating as normal.”
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