Less than a week after mystery drones grounded flights at the U.K.’s second largest airport, wreaking havoc on as many as 140,000 people’s travel plans for the Christmas period, police have admitted that there may in fact not have been any drones at all.
Gatwick airport reopened on Friday after a one-day shutdown but it appears that investigators are no closer to knowing what actually took place.
The Guardian reports that police released and exonerated a couple who had been detained as suspects, while a senior police spokesperson said there is “always a possibility that there may not have been any genuine drone activity in the first place.”
Indeed, the police are reliant on eyewitness accounts — 67 of them, to be precise — to piece together what happened. The BBC reported last week that two drones flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from” were spotted by bystanders late Wednesday, with a third reportedly seen on Thursday morning. Runways were shut for around six hours between Wednesday evening and the early hours of Thursday, before a fuller suspension came into effect after the alleged sighting of the third drone.
Police released suspects Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait on Sunday evening after concluding that they were not responsible for the incident. Their arrest had prompted British newspapers and commentators to berate the pair even before they were charged. The Mail on Sunday shamed them for “ruining Christmas” while TV presenter and former tabloid journalist Piers Morgan was forced to apologize for an earlier tweet that labeled Kirk and Gait as “clowns.” Read more