Fireman Sam creator David Jones held over veil remark

David Jones David Jones said his comments to Gatwick Airport security staff were not intended to be offensive

The creator of children's character Fireman Sam has criticised the treatment he received after he was detained at Gatwick Airport.

David Jones was held for questioning as he passed through X-ray scanners after asking why a veiled Muslim woman was not checked by airport security.

Mr Jones said he had been flying to Portugal and joked about wearing his scarf over his face.

Gatwick Airport said his comments had offended some security staff.

Start Quote

It was a quip, but when I got to the end... I was bagged by a security guard”

End Quote David Jones

Former fireman Mr Jones, 67, was on his way to Faro in the Algarve, where he now lives.

He was asked to place his belongings, including his scarf, into a tray to pass through the scanner.

However, as he did so, he spotted the woman pass through the area without showing her face.

Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, he recalled how he said to officials: "I wonder what would happen if I covered my face with my scarf.

"It was a quip. And I expected the guy to say: 'Yeah, I know what you mean mate' but when I got to the end and was putting all my stuff back on, I was bagged by a security guard."

Mr Jones said he was told: "You've made a remark which someone finds offensive. Come with me."

'Bizarre situation'

He denied making an offensive remark, saying it was "an observation, nothing more", but he was told he should apologise to a Muslim security guard who was nearby when the comment was made.

Mr Jones described the situation as bizarre, but said he was not arrested even though he was held "for quite a while".

He was freed after agreeing the remark could be regarded as offensive.

In a statement, Gatwick Airport said there was no legal requirement to remove religious headwear to establish identity in airport security areas, and that "when the Muslim lady in traditional dress passed through security no alarms activated".

"Some security colleagues were offended by some of the comments made and supervisors asked the passenger to return landside and engaged in a discussion during which the passenger requested the presence of the police.

"The matter was resolved and the passenger was later re-screened and did not miss his flight," it said.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Jones said he was taking advice and considering whether to pursue the matter further following the incident on 19 February.

Mr Jones, originally from West London and a former member of the Household Cavalry, dreamt up the idea of Fireman Sam with fellow firefighter Dave Gingell when they worked at Clerkenwell station in London.

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