Border Force officer at Gatwick airport thought passenger 'might be involved in paedophilia' because he had boyfriend and camera
Border Force officer at Gatwick airport thought passenger 'might be involved in paedophilia' because he had boyfriend and camera  (Reuters) Reuters

A man was stopped and searched at Gatwick airport after officers believed he "might be involved in paedophilia" because he had a boyfriend and a camera, according to a report.

The report followed an investigation by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration's office, which looked into the behaviour of members of the UK Border Force at Gatwick Airport's north terminal.

In one incident, a gay man was stopped and had his bag searched after officers believed he was a paedophile. The fact that he had a boyfriend and a camera "confirmed this", the officers said, according to the report.

The unnamed man's HIV status, discovered through a background check, was also discussed in front of other passengers in the queue, after which the officer searching his baggage was advised by an fellow immigration officer to use a strong antiseptic gel on his hands.

The report said: "The passenger was stopped and asked routine questions about the trip. When the officer indicated they wished to search the baggage, the passenger requested that this be done in a more private place.

"This request and a further request on this issue were refused. The contents of the passenger's bag were then openly displayed, including photographic equipment.

"The officer then commented to another officer that the passenger was HIV-positive; the colleague then advised that the searching officer should use stronger hand gel.

"These comments were made within earshot of the passenger and other passengers in the channel.

"When subsequently asked why this passenger had been stopped immediately after this interaction, the officer commented that the passenger 'looked like he might be involved in paedophilia' and then went on to say that 'the presence of the camera and the fact he had a boyfriend confirmed this'."

The report suggested that around 71 percent of the 108 searches conducted by officers at Gatwick's north terminal between April and June 2011 were not justified. Women were subjected to a disproportionate number of strip searches, it said.

The report said: "We found that 16 out of the 24 identified strip searches undertaken involved women. Given that only 30 of the 108 passengers subject to person searches involved women, this indicates that at least 54 percent of the female passengers stopped and searched were strip-searched compared with between 11- 20 percent of the men subject to a person search."

A spokesman for the UK Border Force said: "We are disappointed that the inspector will not share details of the individual cases so that the Border Force can investigate the incident and take further action as necessary.

"We have already addressed the chief inspector's recommendations by introducing additional training for staff on issues of discrimination. We take discriminatory practice very seriously and have procedures in place to deal with any complaints."