Security staff at Gatwick have been criticised for their “over the top” reaction for declaring a tiny model rifle held by a solder figurine as a safety threat.
A Canadian couple were stopped when returning home with the souvenir Signaller Crouching figure bought from the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford in Dorset.
An official at the airport security check took the nine-inch high model out of its box and said its three-inch moulded Army SA80 rifle could not go onto the aircraft.
Ken Lloyd, whose wife had the figurine in her luggage, said a supervisor was called after a woman security guard found the rifle. The couple had no option but to take the toy back to the airport concourse and post it to their home address.
Museum Curator Adam Forty learned of the situation when Lloyd returned and told him what had happened at Gatwick.
“The military museum takes security very seriously, especially around military installations and airports, but this does seem more than a little excessive,” he told local newspaper the Western Gazette.
“It is probably just as well we didn’t sell Mrs Lloyd a toy tank.” A Gatwick spokesman said the report of the incident would be looked into.