LONDON (AFP) – London’s Gatwick Airport has apologised after a man wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Freedom or Die” was asked to turn it inside-out because it could be threatening, a spokesman said Monday.
Lloyd Berks, 38, was stopped by security officers as he headed for a family skiing holiday in Austria, according to media reports.
“When I went through the metal detector, first they told me to take my trainers off, then they took my wallet off me. Then the guy who checked me told me to turn my T-shirt inside out,” he said, cited by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“He said: ‘Some airlines get a bit worried by T-shirts with what you have got on, it might be a bit threatening’.
“I thought he was joking at first. It is turquoise and white, it is just a design T-shirt, it is not gothic or in your face and the slogan is quite small.
“I asked if I could cover it up with my cardigan and he said that would be OK,” added the Briton, who was travelling with his partner, Donna, 38, and children Callum, six, and Kaydee, four on February 27.
Gatwick apologised for the incident, a spokesman said, stressing that the airport “does not apply a policy relating to appropriate/inappropriate T-shirt slogans worn by passengers passing through airport security.
“While safety and security are our highest priorities, we also expect staff to apply common sense and judgement.
“The reported incident sounds unncessary. We would apologise to the passenger for any inconvenience or embarrassment caused.”
The security officer involved was spoken to about the incident as part of regular line-management assessment, said the spokesman. “It was done with the best intention,” he said.
But he added: “We thought it was a little bit over-zealous.”