Gatwick drone: Labour calls for independent inquiry

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A queue snakes around Gatwick airportImage source, PA
Image caption,
About 1,000 aircraft were either cancelled or diverted during the disruption

Labour has called for an independent inquiry into the disruption caused by the Gatwick Airport drone sightings.

Flights were grounded and around 140,000 passengers affected during three days of chaos after drones were spotted close to the runway on Wednesday.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed the government missed chances to prevent the incident.

The government said the law already forbids flying drones near airports.

A 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman from Crawley are being questioned by police over the drone sightings.

The pair were arrested on Friday and police searched a house in the West Sussex town the following day.

Mr McDonald said: "The government was repeatedly warned about the risks posed by drones to aviation but failed to act.

"The delay in bringing forward legislation is indicative of this government's failure to concentrate on the day-to-day business in front of them. They have taken their eye off the ball.

"The scale of disruption is unacceptable and it demands that we find out how this was allowed to happen, which is why Labour are calling for an independent inquiry."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Thousands of people were stranded at the airport as police hunted for those flying the drones

His comments come after a report in the Times claimed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had delayed plans for further legislation regulating drone use.

But a spokesman for the Department for Transport called the claims "a combination of nonsense and gross misrepresentation".

He added: "The drones at Gatwick have been flown illegally. The government changed the law this year to make it illegal to fly drones within 1,000 meters of an airport or above 400 feet. The law couldn't be any more clear."