Innocent couple vilified in Gatwick drones coverage

Innocent members of the public have once again been exposed nationwide in newspapers over a crime they did not commit.


You will be familiar with the “Gatwick drones” story that dominated the media and news headlines over the holiday period, grounding Gatwick airport three times in three days and leaving 140,000 passengers stranded right before Christmas.


You may have also seen two faces published in connection with holding Gatwick to a standstill. A couple local to the airport were arrested on Friday 21st December, and their profiles were exposed to the world. Many of the Sunday newspapers on 23 December 2018 were eager to reveal the identity of the couple and published front page photographs exposing them.



The Sunday Express “Revealed: Gatwick Drone Suspects”, whilst the Mail on Sunday questioned “Are these the morons who ruined Christmas?”. The Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Telegraph also had front page photographs of the couple. We have covered their pictures, but the Mail on Sunday & Sunday Express published close-up images of their faces.


Whilst newspapers were still flying off the shelves and their faces bared to the world, Sussex police then announced later that day that they had released the couple without charge. Sussex Police’s chief constable has since said he feels “really sorry” for them.




On Christmas Eve the couple made a public statement outside their home in which they voiced how they were “feeling completely violated” by press coverage of their arrest:


“Our home has been searched and our privacy and identity completely exposed”

“Our names, photos and other personal information has been broadcast throughout the world.”



Hacked Off’s Director Kyle Taylor said:


“Once again, innocent members of the public have been subjected to appalling accusations in a newspaper over a crime they did not commit.”

“Almost eight years to the day since Christopher Jefferies was vilified in the press for a murder he had no part in, the targeting of this couple shows that when it comes to press standards at some titles, nothing has changed since the Leveson Inquiry.”


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1 Comment

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L Whitworthreply
January 12, 2019 at 9:42 am

This couple’s case will attract widespread sympathy. On the day it happened, I thought immediately of its value to HO as evidence of continuing injustice, that goes beyond incursions into celebrity privacy. What use precisely does HO intend to make of it. Are you supporting a case for compensation or other?

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