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Airport worker scans colleague

Victim accidentally strayed into full-body scanner

  • Reuters
  • Published: 00:00 March 25, 2010
  • Gulf News

Illustration
  • Image Credit: Gulf News
  • The government says staff using the machines are properly supervised and would not be able to see the person being scanned.

London : A security worker at London's Heathrow Airport has received a police warning and faces disciplinary action over claims he ogled a female colleague using a full-body scanner, officials said yesterday.

The 25-year-old worker made lewd comments after his colleague Jo Margetson, 29, mistakenly strayed into the scanner, which can see through clothes to produce an image of the body, the Sun newspaper reported.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind since the full-body scanners were rushed into service at a number of British airports in the wake of an attempt by a suspected terrorist to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on December 25.

They are now being rolled out at airports across the world.

Details of the incident at Heathrow's Terminal 5 on March 10 emerged on the day lawmakers said concerns that the scanners were intrusive had been overblown.

Margetson told the Sun she had been "traumatised" by what had happened and had informed police and her bosses at the airport's operator BAA.

"We treat any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misuse of security equipment very seriously and these claims are being investigated thoroughly," said a spokeswoman for BAA.

"If found to be substantiated, we will take appropriate action."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers had been informed of the allegation and "a first instance harassment warning has been issued to a 25-year-old man".

Opponents of scanners have argued since their introduction that they risked breaching individuals' rights to privacy. Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission has already said they might be breaking discrimination and privacy laws.

"For every official caught ogling like this, there are plenty more eyeing up law-abiding travellers," Alex Deane, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, told the Sun.

"These expensive machines are totally disproportionate."

The government says staff using the machines are properly supervised and would not be able to see the person being scanned. All images are deleted. Britain's parliamentary Home Affairs Committee said fears about the scanners were misplaced and they should be introduced at a faster pace to deal with the threat of terrorism.

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