Met Police counter terror team to 'follow every avenue' in Heathrow Airport uranium investigation

A plane lands on the southern runway at London Heathrow Airport.
Plane lands at Heathrow Airport in West London Credit: PA

Counter-terrorism investigators will "follow every avenue" to discover how material contaminated with a radioactive substance came to be found at Heathrow Airport.

Uranium was detected during routine screening of a package at the airport on December 29, that reportedly originated in Pakistan and arrived on a flight from Oman.

Giving evidence at the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday, Commander Richard Smith, head of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command, said that police will "follow every avenue" to find out the circumstances.

'Emitting a radioactive signal'

He said: "It’s understandable that a report like this would attract considerable attention and potentially concern.

"The circumstances are that in the course of routine scanning at London Heathrow an element of cargo was identified that was emitting a radioactive signal.

"There are procedures in place to deal with these sorts of incidents and those procedures were enacted.

"As part of that the counter-terrorism commands were contacted and have opened an investigation into the surrounding circumstances."

He said that the primary concern was whether there was a public health risk, and there was not.

“The consignments that had been identified included a very small amount of contaminated material”, Mr Smith said.

He added: “The amount of material we’re talking about was very small, and there was no threat to public health or public safety identified.

“We will of course, follow every avenue to see what the background to this was and satisfy ourselves that there’s no further threat.”

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