England

Diverted Stansted flight man convicted of £175 fraud

Pakistan International Airlines plane Image copyright PA
Image caption Khalid Baqa was on board a flight diverted to Stansted Airport while on its way to Heathrow from Pakistan in February

A man arrested when the flight he was on was diverted to Stansted Airport and escorted by fighter jets has been convicted of insurance fraud amounting to just £175.

Khalid Baqa, 52, from Barking, was on a flight from Lahore, to Heathrow in February when it was diverted due to an unrelated "disruptive passenger".

Baqa had failed to tell his car insurer about penalty points when he renewed his policy, magistrates heard.

He was given a conditional discharge.

Baqa, an unemployed former revenue officer at Hackney Borough Council, was jailed for two years in 2013 for possession and dissemination of terrorist material.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Pakistan International Airlines flight was diverted to Stansted on 7 February

At the time of the diversion on 7 February, Essex Police said the incident was "not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter", and there had been reports of a disruptive passenger on board.

However, Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement that UK authorities had received "some vague security threat through an anonymous phone call" regarding the flight.

He was due to have been arrested anyway when the flight arrived at Heathrow before it was diverted, police said at the time.

No information about the background to Baqa's arrest or whether he was linked to the flight diversion was given at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The court heard he had been arrested and charged for failing to tell car insurers Liverpool Victoria about three penalty points he received in 2015 for going through a red light when he renewed his policy.

Prosecutor Fabio Vitiello told the court: "The premium would have been £175 higher, therefore the prosecution case is that by not disclosing the conviction he made a benefit for himself by not paying the higher price."

Baqa, of Priory Road, was ordered to pay £115 in costs and victim surcharge after being convicted of fraud by failure to disclose information.

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