Stoke & Staffordshire

Megabus M6 Toll closure: 'Armed police aimed at us'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPassenger Jenny Lister: "Everyone was getting pretty scared"

A passenger on the Megabus coach at the centre of a police alert on the M6 Toll road said police pointed guns at them as they got off the bus.

Police were called after reports of "vapour" coming from a bag on board the Preston to London bus - which turned out to be from an electronic cigarette.

Police said the suspicions raised were "genuine" but unfounded.

For the 48 passengers on the coach a trip to London resulted in dramatic scenes as armed police swooped to close the road and secure the coach.

Jenny Lister was one of those onboard.

Not allowed off

She was heading to the capital for a job interview on Friday for a BBC audience researcher position, accompanied by her boyfriend Andy Gray.

At about 08:20 BST the coach driver pulled the vehicle over onto the hard shoulder of the motorway.

Ms Lister said she did not know what was happening but at first presumed that the driver was taking a break.

She said: "After about half an hour, we were still not being told what was actually going on.

"I noticed cars on the other side of the motorway had stopped, but presumed there was some kind of accident.

"The driver was on his phone for ages, but said nothing to us about what was going on. Some people went up to the driver and tried to get off the bus, but he told them they weren't allowed.

"After an hour and a half we noticed armed police behind us.

Image caption The coach had been travelling from Preston to London when it stopped

"Everyone was very confused. The driver kept getting up and walking along the bus, but still didn't say what was happening.

"People began to get agitated and worried. At this stage we still thought that it might be an accident though."

We saw people in the buses at the side of the motorway, but thought perhaps they were suspects - the people the police were after. Then we realised they were actually the police themselves.

"I and everyone else became scared at this point. We could also the hear the police helicopter too," she said.

Belongings taken

"Throughout this, the driver was speaking on and off the phone. He told us we'd have to get off the bus.

"We stood up and started to make our way to the front but were then told to sit back down. This happened a few times.

"Eventually we got off one by one and were instructed that people on the left-hand side of the bus should get off first.

"When we got off the bus, there were armed police aiming at us. We had to walk very slowly.

"We walked over to the toll, where someone searched us and there were sniffer dogs.

"Then our details were taken - name, address, age etc. Once we had given our details, the police told us that there had been a phone call about a suspicious package.

"We gave the police all of the belongings we had on us and were told to sit in rows and not talk to each other. There was a small area of the motorway where we were told to sit and stay.

"It was probably 45 minutes to an hour that we were sat there. People could go to the toilet, but only one-by-one. We were given water too.

"After this we were put back on this bus and allowed our phones.

"The police kept thanking us for our patience," she said. "They said they had not found anything suspicious and we were taken to a location to identify our baggage."

The passengers were given the option of continuing on the coach to London or travelling back to Preston on another service.

Summing up her experience she said: "The worst part was being stuck on the bus not knowing what was going on."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites