Daily Archives: March 19, 2010

Soccer coach told to turn ‘threatening’ Freedom or Death T-shirt inside out by airport security guards

‘Threatening’: Lloyd Berks with the offending T-shirt, which he was forced to cover up after airport staff initially asked him to turn it inside out

Daily Mail | Mar 14, 2010

By Kate Loveys

A father on a family holiday was told to hide his T-shirt because airport security staff claimed the slogan it bore was an incitement to terrorism.

Lloyd Berks arrived at Gatwick Airport wearing a trendy white Levi Strauss T-shirt sporting the phrase ‘Freedom or Death’ in turquoise lettering.

Beneath the slogan is a picture of a skeleton dressed in armour.

The Gothic imagery is common on the high street and has been used by designers such as Alexander McQueen and artist Damien Hirst.

But security officers decided it was ‘threatening’ and told the father of two, who was travelling with his partner and two young children, to turn the T-shirt inside out.

The embarrassed 38-year-old soccer coach obliged, opting to cover the garment with a cardigan.

But he has accused the airport of being over-zealous and attacking civil liberties.

Mr Berks, who was flying to Salzburg with Thomson Airways for a skiing holiday, was stopped at a security checkpoint by Gatwick staff.

‘First they told me take my shoes off and checked my wallet, which is understandable,’ he said.

‘Then they said airlines might be worried by my T-shirt because its “threatening”.

‘I thought they were joking at first. I was with my family. I was hardly a terrorist risk.

‘And the T-shirt is trendy, not an incitement to terrorism. I’ve never heard of anything more ridiculous.

‘It’s an attack on people’s civil liberties. What has happened to common sense? Have people forgotten how to use it?’

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said it was yet another example of how paranoid we have been made by terrorism.

‘This is a sad example of the terrorism paranoia which increasingly affects every part of public life.

‘T-shirt slogans do not imply malicious intent and the pathetic security officers should have known better.

‘After the intrusion and embarrassment of bodyscanning, one wonders how much more difficult airports can make leaving the country.’

The incident happened on February 27 as Mr Berks, from Bexley in Kent, travelled with his partner Donna Nicholls, 38, an IT specialist, and their children Callum, six, and Kaydee, four.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport has since apologised. She denied the airport had a policy on T-shirt slogans.

She said: ‘London Gatwick does not apply a policy relating to appropriate or 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 judgment.

‘The reported incident sounds unnecessary. We would apologise to the passenger for any inconvenience or embarrassment caused.’

Under-cover litter police swoop down on autistic boy after gull attack

Boy fined from dropping chips after gull attack

express.co.uk | Mar 19, 2010

By Rod Mills

Fined for dropping the chips

A COUNCIL’S litter snoops were condemned yesterday after an autistic schoolboy was fined £50 for dropping a bag of chips when a seagull swooped in to attack him.

Kyle Russell, 12, had just bought his lunch and was standing at his school gates when the aggressive bird flew down to steal a chip.

He dropped the bag in fright, but was spotted by a plain-clothes litter enforcement officer who issued the £50 fine.

The Glasgow City Council official ignored the tearful schoolboy’s attempts to explain his actions.

Now the youngster, who recently received a good behaviour award from teachers, faces the possibility of being referred to the Children’s Panel after furious mum Michelle, 43, refused to pay up.

Mrs Russell, a catering manager at Knightswood Secondary, where her son is a first-year pupil, yesterday attacked the warden’s actions.

She said: “My son is not a rule breaker. He knows the importance of not dropping litter, but it was a split-second reaction.

“He immediately apologised to the council officer.”

Campaign group Big Brother Watch condemned the move and offered to take up the mother’s legal battle.
Alex Deane, its director, said: “This could only happen in a target-driven, bureaucratic culture of overpowered jobsworths like ours today.

“The council has acted with no common sense or human feeling and should be ashamed.

“It should drop the fine and apologise and the petty warden who issued the fixed penalty notice should be fired.”

Last year Big Brother Watch gave legal advice to Vanessa Kelly, 26, from Oldbury, West Midlands, who was fined £75 by a council worker for feeding ducks with her 17-month-old son Harry. She forced the council to back down after an outcry over the petty fine.

Glasgow City Council, which has increased plain-clothes patrols outside the school, began enforcing littering fixed penalty notices for under-16s in 2008 as part of a £5million initiative to clean up the city.

It has issued 244 fixed penalty notices to young people between the age of 12 and 16 since February 2008, when the scheme began.

Councils have the right to impose fixed penalty notices on anyone over eight years old, the age of criminal responsibility.

Anyone issued with the ticket can pay the fine or take part in a clean-up event. But if neither of these options are taken up the child may appear before a Children’s Panel.

To date, no youngsters under the age of 16 have been referred for littering. Last night a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it had not received an appeal against the ticket.

But he added: “If a parent feels that their child has been incorrectly identified as having committed an offence, they have the opportunity to contact the campaign to discuss their concerns.”