Couple held and later cleared over Gatwick Airport drone disruption 'feel violated'

In an emotional statement outside their home in Crawley, West Sussex, Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk said: “As you can probably imagine, we’re feeling completely violated.

“Our home has been searched and our privacy and identity completely exposed.

“Our names, photos and other personal information have been broadcast throughout the world.

“We are deeply distressed, as are our family and friends, and we are currently receiving medical care.

“The way we were initially perceived was disgusting, although those who knew us didn’t doubt us for a second.”

The pair were arrested and released without charge following two nights in custody.

Around 1,000 flights were cancelled over diverted after drones were spotted inside the perimeter of the airport on Wednesday, with the disruption spanning two days and affecting around 140,000 passengers.

In an attempt to catch those responsible, Gatwick Airport has offered a £50,000 reward through Crimestoppers, while another £10,000 has been put up by the charity’s chairman Lord Ashcroft.

Gatwick – Britain’s second busiest airport – serves more than 43 million passengers a year.

As the fallout from the chaos continues, Sky News understands ministers have labelled the police handling of communications surrounding the drone sightings as a “mess-up”.

After an hour-long conference call on Monday chaired by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, it was acknowledged police “have not handled their communication response well”.

Sunday’s claim by police that there was a “possibility” that there might never have been a drone, was described as a “mess-up”.

Police urge those with information to come forward as they release two people arrested over the disruption without charge

On Monday afternoon, police appeared to backtrack completely over that statement.

Sussex Police Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “We can unequivocally state that there have been numerous illegal drone sightings at the airport over three days from 19 to 21 December.

“There were numerous reports clustered around 37 occasions where a drone or drones were seen and I am keen for those responsible to be brought to justice.

“The impact of this criminal and reckless behaviour has been enormous and we are determined to locate those responsible to bring them to justice.”

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