Police investigating the drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick Airport in December think it may have been an “inside job”, according to reports.
According to The Times, Whitehall sources have said that police think a disgruntled current or former employee at the airport was behind the incident, which brought Gatwick to a standstill.
An investigation into the incident – which saw 1,000 flights cancelled, affecting 140,000 passengers – is being carried out by Sussex Police.
The force has come under fire for its response to the attack, and its Chief Constable Giles York also apologised after a couple were held for 36 hours over the disruption before being cleared of any involvement.
According to The Times, analysis of witness reports have led detectives to believe that the drone was operated by someone who knew the layout of Gatwick and could avoid detection by ‘hiding’ behind certain buildings or flying in areas where a mobile phone ban meant people could not take pictures of it.
A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “[The drone pilot] knew the blind spots for it, where it could not be ‘hit’.
“It was clearly someone with really good knowledge of Gatwick, someone who had worked there. Hypothetically it could have been a disgruntled employee.”
Another source agreed with the theory of a disgruntled employee, according to the report.
On Wednesday, the Department for Transport announced new legislation to extend the no-fly zone for drones around airports will come into force next month.
The legislation will see drones banned from being flown within five kilometres of airports from March 13.
The Government is also working on a new Drones Bill which will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within five kilometres of an airport
It will also give forces the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.
There were 125 near misses between drones and aircraft reported in 2018, up 34% on the total of 93 during the previous year. Just six incidents were recorded in 2014.