Senior ministers call urgent meetings amid copycat Gatwick drone attack fears

Posted On: 
23rd December 2018

Senior ministers will meet urgently to discuss the threat of copycat drones in the wake of the Gatwick airport attack, it has been reported. 

Officials are concerned by the prospect of copy-cat attacks on UK transport hubs

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On Friday night police arrested and then released a couple on suspicion of carrying out the Gatwick drone raids, but Whitehall sources told the Sunday Telegraph they were “very concerned” about the possibility of copycat attacks.

Ministers are set to meet in Number 10 on Christmas eve to discuss how transport hubs can be protected from the such airborne incursions - which brought Gatwick to a halt, resulting in delays for over 140,000 passengers.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who authorised the deployment of specialised military equipment to help bring the crisis at Gatwick to an end, said: “The Armed Forces stand ready to assist the civilian authorities whenever they are required.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Richard Walton, former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, argued it was now likely there would be attempts to recreate the attacks.

“The ease with which a major UK aviation hub was brought to a standstill will not have escaped the attention of terrorist groups who will be wondering why they have not tried using drones before.”

He added: “It was too long before the drone flying above Gatwick was seen as a national major incident and treated accordingly, and it was too long before the Whitehall machine got involved.”

A Whitehall source told the paper: “We are very concerned about any potential copy-cats and measures are being taken to address that.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Transport secretary Andy McDonald blasted the Government’s response after it was revealed that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling shelved plans earlier this year to further regulate the use of drones.

Mr McDonald said: “The Government has glaringly failed to heed the warning and bring forward the legislation that was promised more than a year ago. Once again, there is a lack of leadership from the transport secretary.”