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Man fined for flying drone near Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Premier League venues

The drone Nigel Wilson used to film his videos Credit: Metropolitan Police

A man from Nottingham has been fined £1800 for flying drones over Premier League football stadiums near Buckingham Palace.

Security guard Nigel Wilson from Bingham showed "flagrant disregard" for people's safety as he shot videos to upload to his YouTube channel using three unmanned aircraft, the court heard.

It is the first time a person has been prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service for using drones following a police-led operation.

Between September and November last year Wilson filmed aerial views from heights of at least 100 metres of Premier League, Champions League and Championship football matches.

Police horses were startled by the device as Wilson flew it at a Champions League group stage game between Liverpool and Ludogorets at Anfield, the court heard.

He also filmed:

  • A Derby County-Reading Championship clash at Derby Stadium
  • An Arsenal-Tottenham derby at the Emirates Stadium
  • Manchester City's game with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium

He was fined £200 for each of the nine offences he admitted asd wekk as paying £600 in costs and a £20 surcharged. He also forfeited the drones and cameras.

The judge told Wilson he had put the public at risk by flying the drones over busy, built-up areas.

"At each and every one of these places an accident could have occurred simply by a gust of wind or something of that nature taking it out of your control. In each and every case you knew what you were doing. Several times you were warned by police, who seized drones from you, and on numerous occasions by people posting on your YouTube channel. It was the height of arrogance in terms of public safety."

– District Judge Quentin Purdy

There are very strict rules surrounding the use of small unmanned surveillance aircraft such as drones. Operators of machines of this sort must:

  • Not fly them over or within 150 metres of any congested area, over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 people.
  • Not fly them within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the user's control, unless they have obtained permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Must must maintain direct visual contact with a drone throughout its flight path so they can avoid collisions with people and buildings
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Call for more drone pilots

A lifesize model of WatchKeeper (WK) and Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. Credit: Press Association

The Chair of the Defence Select Committee is calling for more pilots of drones, which are operated from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. The aircraft has been praised for its work in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Hundreds start drone protest march to RAF Waddington

Crowds of peace campaigners gather in Lincoln for start of anti-drone protest march Credit: ITV Central

Hundreds of peace campaigners have started marching from Lincoln to RAF Waddington, in protest of a new fleet of armed drones being based in the UK for the first time.

Protesters preparing their banners before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles earlier this week from the airbase in Lincolnshire.

Previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada, the aircraft are used to support coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.

Banners are laid out at South Park in Lincoln before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want are estimated to walk the four mile route in around two hours.

It's expected to take the protesters two hours to walk the four mile route from Lincoln to RAF WAddington. Credit: ITV Central
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War protester: 'Now is the time to ban killer drones'

Ahead of a planned protest outside an RAF base today against the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan, War on Want senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah said:

Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public.

"Now is the time to ban killer drones - before it is too late.

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MoD defends its use of drones in Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defence has defended its use of drones in Afghanistan, which it says have saved the lives of countless military personnel and civilians.

UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft.

– Ministry of Defence spokesman
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Anti-drones protest set to be staged at RAF base

Anti-war protesters are set to gather outside an RAF base today to voice their opposition to the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan.

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want will march from Lincoln to nearby RAF Waddington.

An RAF MQ-9 Reaper Credit: MOD

The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles deployed to Afghanistan from the Lincolnshire airbase earlier this week.

In a statement, the RAF said it had started supporting the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan ground troops with "armed intelligence and surveillance missions" remotely piloted from RAF Waddington.

The aircraft were previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada.

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