London, UK : The couple wrongly arrested over Gatwick Airport’s drone crisis, have hit out at police and media in an emotional statement after their release without charge.
In an address outside their West Sussex home on Monday (UK time), Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk said they felt “violated” at their treatment.
“Our home has been searched, and our privacy and identity completely exposed. Our names, photos, and other personal information, has been broadcast throughout the world,” Mr Gait said.
“As you can probably imagine, we’re feeling completely violated.”
Mr Gait, 47, and Ms Kirk, 54, said how they were portrayed initially was “disgusting”, adding that close family and friends never doubted their innocence.
“Post-release without charge or further action, we are totally overwhelmed by the support we have received from the people all over the world, and we would like to thank every single one that has done that,” Mr Gait said.
“We would ask that the press please respect our privacy, and leave us to try and get through Christmas as best we can.”
Mr Gait said he and his wife were receiving medical treatment following the ordeal.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Gatwick Airport has offering a reward of £50,000 ($90,000) for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for drones that crippled the airport last week.
The drones flown around the airport between Wednesday and Friday, forced about 1000 flights to be diverted or cancelled and affected 140,000 passengers. Every time the airport sought to reopen the runway on Thursday, the drones returned.
The drones caused misery for travellers, many sleeping on the airport floor as they searched for alternative routes to holidays and Christmas family gatherings.
Mr Gait and Ms Kirk were held after information was passed to the police by a member of the public, Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley told Sky News.
He said he was confident the arrests were justified.
He said authorities were continuing to actively follow lines of investigation to catch those responsible for the most disruptive incursions from unmanned aerial vehicles seen at any major airport.
A damaged drone had been recovered close to the perimeter of the airport, he said, and it was being forensically examined.
No group has claimed responsibility for the disruption.
“We have kept an open mind throughout and that is still the case with regards to the motivation behind these incidents,” he said.