- Metropolitan Police says arrest was for failing to attend court; not terror-related
A man who was wanted for failing to attend court was arrested by armed police as he sat on a British Airways plane which had just landed at Heathrow.
MailOnline has been given exclusive pictures showing officers escorting the 28-year-old man off the flight and taking him away in a marked police van.
Shocked passengers watched as the drama unfolded and were left fearful that the man might have been a suspected terrorist.
But the Metropolitan Police said he was arrested for failing to attend Wood Green magistrates court in north London on a charge which was ‘not terror-related’.
A spokesperson for the Met confirmed that he had been charged with drugs offences.
The incident happened within minutes of the plane touching down just before 3pm on Tuesday after a flight from Stuttgart, Germany.
Shocked passengers feared it may have been terror-related, but the Metropolitan Police has confirmed the 28-year-old man was arrested for failing to attend court
The man was taken from the British Airways after the plane and into a police van on the runway after the aircraft landed at London Heathrow
A traveller who was sitting in Business Class said: ‘There was no kerfuffle or an indication that anything was wrong on the flight.
‘We had just landed and were taxiing to the terminal when the plane came to a halt and all the passengers were told to stay in their seats.
‘We were stuck there for five or ten minutes, and I thought we were just waiting for an aerobridge to be connected, but all of a sudden five armed police came on the plane.
‘One officer who had a hard helmet and what looked like a camera on it stayed by the cockpit while the other four walked down the aisle.
‘They then quickly escorted this man off the plane. It was done in seconds.
‘He seemed quite relaxed as he walked off with two officers in front of him and two at the back. The officers all had handguns in holsters, but did not draw them.
‘Afterwards I looked through the window and saw him being put in a police van.
‘Nobody knew what was going on and it did pass through my mind that it might have been something to do with terrorism.
‘I had seen the man at Stuttgart airport before he got on the plane and there was nothing suspicious or unusual about him.
‘There was no explanation about what was happening, but I overheard the head steward talking to woman passenger who I think was an ex-member of BA staff.
‘I think he said something like, “We were only notified mid-flight”.’
He added that he had never experienced a situation like it before although he had previously had officers on board to assist with deportations.
The incident happened within minutes of the plane touching down after a flight from Stuttgart, Germany. Passengers were able to leave the plane after the man was taken off
‘Once the man was off, everyone was allowed to leave the plane and got on buses back to the terminal.
‘Security at Heathrow certainly seemed enhanced as we were passing through. I don’t know whether that was because of the situation in the Middle East.’
The Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: ‘At around 3pm on Tuesday 17 October, police arrested a 28-year-old man on board a flight that landed at Heathrow Airport, after a bench warrant was issued by Wood Green Magistrates’ Court after he had failed to appear in court. This is not terror-related.’
The spokesperson was unable to give further details about the charges faced by the man, other than confirming that they were drug offences and that he had been taken before the court.
A British Airways spokesperson refused to comment, saying: ‘I’ve checked with our teams here and they’ve advised that it wasn’t a BA-related issue.’