Question: UK Security Minister Ben Wallace has explained that yesterday’s search of an Aeroflot plane at Heathrow was a “routine” procedure aimed at protecting the UK “from organized crime and from those who attempt to bring harmful substances like drugs or firearms into the country”. Are you satisfied with this reply?
Answer: This is a clear attempt by the Minister to divert attention from the provocative actions by British law enforcement officers who have tried to search the aircraft without the captain present, in violation of the existing rules.
Mr Wallace’s logic is difficult to comprehend. Aeroflot and Russian airports observe strict international security standards and didn’t give rise to doubts in that respect. Moreover, it is quite strange to search for “drugs and firearms” intended to be “brought into the country” in an empty airplane ready to welcome departing passengers.
This official explanation only aggravates our doubts as to the real intentions of the team that has tried to perform an unlawful search.
Moscow had described the search of an Aeroflot plane as “illegal” and called for an explanation from British authorities.
“It is routine for [UK] Border Force to search aircraft to protect the UK from organized crime and from those who attempt to bring harmful substances like drugs or firearms into the country,” UK Security Minister Ben Wallace said on Saturday. He insisted that once the “checks were carried out,” the aircraft “was allowed to carry on with its onward journey.”
The justification presented by London “only aggravates our doubts as to the real intentions of the team” that performed the unlawful search, the Russian Embassy in the UK said in response to the statement. Aeroflot and Russian airports “observe strict international security standards” on the presence of firearms and drugs on board and did not “give rise to doubts in that respect,” it added.