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