UK Border Authority orders Heathrow to suppress evidence of massive customs queues


The UK Border Authority has ordered Heathrow Airport's management to stop handing out leaflets apologising for the gigantic customs queues at its terminals and advising them to contact UKBA to complain. UKBA has also ordered the airport to stop passengers from documenting these queues with photographs. I came into Heathrow T5 on April 13, and was stuck in an hour-long line just to get into the customs hall, where we were sorted into EU/non-EU passports, and took a picture or two. At the time, uniformed employees were telling us that non-EU passport holders could expect to wait five hours to clear customs. The Guardian's Ben Quinn reports:

The airport operator was also told to prevent passengers taking pictures in the arrivals hall, according to the Daily Telegraph, which obtained correspondence from Marc Owen, director of UKBA operations at Heathrow. Pictures of lengthy queues have been posted on Twitter by frustrated travellers.

Owen said: "The leaflet … is both inflammatory and likely to increase tensions in arrivals halls especially in the current atmosphere. It is inappropriate in that it is not for you to display how to complain on our behalf. Please refrain from handing out [the leaflets] or I will escalate [the matter] with ministers who are likely to take a very dim view. I know there are copies in the hall and your troops are ready with them."

Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour's aviation spokesman, said: "This is a pure coverup. I can understand people wanting to take pictures of the queues. This is further evidence of Border Force trying to hide the severity of the problem.

"Passengers need to know how to register complaints and for Border Force to try to prevent them doing so is outrageous."

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