Couple quizzed over Gatwick drone chaos feel 'completely violated'

The couple quizzed by police over the drone disruption at Gatwick Airport that caused Christmas travel chaos for thousands of passengers say they feel "completely violated" by the experience.

Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk were arrested and released without charge following two nights in custody after police said they were no longer suspects.

Speaking outside their home in Crawley, West Sussex, on Monday an emotional Mr Gait said the couple were "deeply distressed" by the experience.

"As you can probably imagine we are feeling completely violated," the 47-year-old said.

"Our home has been searched and our privacy and identity completely exposed.

"Our names, photos and other personal information have been broadcast throughout the world."

Mr Gait said he and Ms Kirk, 54, would try to get through Christmas "as best we can".

"The way we were initially perceived was disgusting, although those that know us didn't doubt us for a second," he added.

"Post release without charge or further action, we are totally overwhelmed by the support we have received from the people from all over the world and we would like to thank every single one that has done that."

The drone sighting caused chaos for tens of thousands of customers. Credit: PA

Earlier today police said suggestions there may never have been any drones at Gatwick were down to "poor communications".

Ministers were briefed on the latest situation at the airport in a conference call on Christmas Eve amid growing criticism of the handling of the investigation by Sussex Police.

A senior detective then said it was a "possibility" there may never have been any drones in the area, despite scores of sightings which led to the closure of the airport for three days and caused massive disruption for passengers.

However, following the hour-long conference call – chaired by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – a Government source said police had accepted the claim was down to "poor communications".

Sussex Police Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said on Monday afternoon: "We can unequivocally state that there have been numerous illegal drone sightings at the airport over three days from 19 to 21 December.

"There were numerous reports clustered around 37 occasions where a drone or drones were seen and I am keen for those responsible to be brought to justice."

Asked about speculation there hadn't been a drone, Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley had said on Sunday: "Of course, that's a possibility.

"We are working with human beings saying they have seen something."

Police say there have been more than 200 sightings since the first drone was spotted in the Gatwick area on Wednesday, with officers taking 67 statements.

Police are also carrying out a forensic investigation of a damaged drone found near the airport perimeter, close to the last reported sighting.

Mr Tingley said there were some "persons of interest" but would not reveal if police were close to making any further arrests.

Around 1,000 flights were cancelled or diverted across three days after drones were spotted inside the perimeter of the UK's second biggest airport on Wednesday