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Security concerns after hobbyist lands 300 drone on deck of Royal Navy’s new 3bn flagship

Once it is fully operational, HMS Queen Elizabeth will doubtless be the most heavily protected vessel in the Royal Navy . For now, however, it seems the 3bn pride of the British fleet is so lightly defended that a 300 drone can be landed for an unauthorised visit to the aircraft carrier s decks.

An amateur enthusiast has told how he overflew the largest and most expensive warship ever built for Britain s armed forces with his Parrot Bebop drone before briefly landing on its vast flight deck as it sat, apparently unmanned, on Cromarty Firth in the Scottish Highlands.

I suppose I could have been a Talibani or anything.

Unnamed pilot who landed drone on HMS Queen Elizabeth

Security

The ability of a hobbyist to take a private and unchallenged remote-controlled tour of Big Lizzy will raise difficult questions about security surrounding the vessel as well as throwing into sharp relief the fact that the carrier will not have its own complement of aircraft for authorised take-offs and landings for several years to come.

The drone pilot, who asked not be named, posted footage on Facebook1 of a series of flights over the carrier while it was docked at Invergordon during ongoing sea trials before it is due to arrive at its new home port of Portsmouth as early as next week.

The enthusiast told the Inverness Courier: I was amazed that I was able to land on the aircraft carrier for two reasons, the first being that there was no-one to prevent it from landing, although there were security police around in small boats who were waving at the drone.

High winds

The amateur flier said he had been forced to land on the deck of the ship after a warning of high winds on the control panel of his drone.

He added: I expected the deck to be steel, which would send the drone s electronic landing systems haywire, but I was able to touch down OK and took a couple of shots . There was absolutely no-one around when I landed, it was like a ghost ship.

The 65,000-tonne flagship, one of two super-carriers being built for the Royal Navy, has not yet been formally handed over to the military as it continues to be fine tuned by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the consortium that is building both vessels.

Trials

Trials with the carriers American-built F35B Lightning aircraft are due to begin next year but the Queen Elizabeth is not due to be fully operational until 2021.

The drone pilot said he had been so concerned about his visit to the carrier that he drove to the dockyard in an attempt to explain in person to the crew what he had been doing but was told there was no-one available because all personnel were ashore at dinner.

The hobbyist added: The ship has not been commissioned by the Royal Navy yet and doesn t have aircraft, so I don t think its defence systems that could block radio signals will be fully operational .

If they were, there would be no way I would get within a mile of this vessel.

But it is worth a lot of money and I suppose I could have been a Talibani or anything.

Near misses

The incident is the latest security scare involving drones, which have been involved in multiple near misses with commercial jets landing at airports as well as criminal uses such as delivering drugs and weapons to prisons.

A Scottish MSP said he was considering tabling a question in the Edinburgh parliament about the incident.

Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone said: I think the moral of this astonishing tale is that there is a serious question about security for the Royal Navy for it would have been quite easy for someone of evil intent to do something quite serious . Even a drone crashing into its radar could cause damage.

The Ministry of Defence said it had tightened security on the carrier following the incident . An MOD spokesperson said: We take the security of HMS Queen Elizabeth very seriously .

This incident has been reported to Police Scotland, an investigation is underway and we stepped up our security measures in light of it.

References

  1. ^ footage on Facebook (www.facebook.com)

Security guard who saved the life of man at Aberdeen shopping centre hailed a hero

A man today said a security officer who saved his life will always be a hero to his family. Alan Tait was visiting Aberdeen from Orkney and was spending time in the Union Square shopping mall until it was time for the ferry home. The 50-year-old suddenly felt dizzy and dropped to the ground he had suffered a heart attack.

Security guard Shaun Gibb received a call to assist a shopper who had taken ill . He quickly realised what was happening and started to administer CPR. Due to his quick thinking Alan, whose heart stopped for five minutes, is making a full recovery

Alan, who was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, today praised Shaun for saving his life. He said: I am so grateful to him . He will always be a hero to my family .

When I woke up, I was being told by someone to lie still because I was trying to sit up.

I remember seeing someone opposite me looking rather flush as well.

I understand he d given me CPR . I believe I was dead for five minutes and was blue. Alan has been in hospital recovering since the incident on Sunday and was expected to go home today. He said: I cannot thank everyone who has helped me enough . The ambulance crew and staff at the hospital have been fantastic.

I had a stent put in and I am due to go home I will be glad to see my family.

Alan added: CPR training should be compulsory for everyone . It really makes the difference between life and death . If he had not been so quick and didn t know what I would not be here today . I will be forever grateful to him. Shaun had just arrived for his shift when a call came in to assist a colleague .

He added: When I arrived on the scene a shopper, Alan Tait, was on the ground and my colleague was on the phone to the ambulance I felt for a pulse and realised I needed to start CPR immediately.

Finally, Alan came round with a gasp of air and I explained what happened as he was quite confused I reassured him until the ambulance arrived.

It s great to have such a good outcome and I hope Alan makes a full recovery. Shaun also praised the rest of the staff at the city centre shopping centre. He said: I wouldn t say it was just me, the whole Union Square team was behind me.

Ryan Manson, general manager of Union Square, said: We are happy to hear the customer is on his way to recovering from the incident and commend our security team for their quick thinking, professionalism and unwavering motivation to care for our customers under any circumstance.

Our security team recently earned the British Security Industry Associations National Security Personnel Award for Best Team which without a doubt was well deserved.

Let s all learn skills to be real livesavers , Page 18

Tunisia: Proposed bill could give security forces carte blanche to use unnecessary lethal force

A bill on the agenda for discussion in Tunisia s parliament today could bolster impunity for security forces by granting them immunity from prosecution for unnecessary use of lethal force as well as potentially criminalizing criticism of police conduct, said Amnesty International today. The proposed law, known as the Repression of attacks against armed forces bill, would authorize security forces to use lethal force to protect property even when it is not strictly necessary to protect life, contrary to international standards . It would exempt security forces from criminal liability in such cases if the force used is deemed necessary and proportionate . The bill was first proposed by the government to parliament in April 2015 and was reintroduced at the demand of police unions. This bill is a dangerous step towards institutionalizing impunity in Tunisia s security sector

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International s North Africa Research Director

This bill is a dangerous step towards institutionalizing impunity in Tunisia s security sector .

The fact that parliament is even considering this bill is a sign of the lack of political will on the part of the government to ensure accountability for abuses by the security services . The bill also flouts the country s own constitution which guarantees the right to life, freedom of expression and access to information, said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International s North Africa Research Director.

Tunisian security forces have been targeted in the past but giving them freer rein to use lethal force and immunity from prosecution is not the way to address this challenge . The Tunisian parliamentshould reject this bill and focus on measures to end the impunity enjoyed by the security forces. Tunisian security forces have been targeted by armed groups in a series of attacks since 2015 . Tunisia s parliamentary committee on General Legislation is due to hold a hearing today with the Minister of Interior whose ministry drafted the bill . Later in the day, the committee will also meet with the security forces unions which have been advocating1 for the adoption of the bill.

The bill allows security forces to respond with lethal force to an attack on property that does not threaten lives or risk causing serious injury . Article 18 of the bill would exempt members of the security forces from criminal liability for injuring or killing anyone , including as a result of using lethal force to protect against attacks on homes, objects or vehicles, if the force used is deemed necessary and proportionate to the danger . This is contrary to the state s obligation to respect and protect the right to life. Using lethal force solely to protect property would not be necessary and proportionate . The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms restrict the use of lethal force by law enforcement to situations where it is strictly necessary to protect life . These standards require that an independent authority assess whether the use of lethal force leading to a death or serious injury was necessary and proportionate.

In February 2017, Amnesty International published a report2 highlighting how violations committed by security forces in the context of the state of emergency, including torture and arbitrary arrests, are threatening the country s path to reform . No security officers have been convicted for these violations so far. In Tunisia, abuses committed in the name of security almost always go unpunished

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International s North Africa Research Director

In Tunisia, abuses committed in the name of security almost always go unpunished . This has created an atmosphere of pervasive impunity, where security forces feel that they are above the law and need not fear prosecution, said Heba Morayef.

Granting security forces legal immunity from prosecution through this bill will only embolden perpetrators of human rights violations.

In June, members of Tunisia s infamous El Gorjeni anti-terrorism brigade complained3 to the parliamentary security and defence committee about the number of allegations of torture and other ill-treatment directed towards them, describing such allegations as a form of harassment . The bill also includes vague provisions that could criminalize legitimate criticism of the security forces including for human rights abuses . Article 12 of the bill criminalizes the denigration of police and other security forces with the aim of harming public order , making it punishable with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars. Articles 5 and 6 of the bill provide for up to 10 years in prison and a 50,000 dinar fine for those who disclose or publish national security secrets .

This is defined as any information, data and documents related to national security , an overly broad definition which could be used to imprison those revealing information about human rights violations . No protection from prosecution is provided for whistleblowers or journalists. These provisions are inconsistent with Tunisia s obligation to uphold freedom of expression and the public s right to access information under international law and according to the country s constitution.

During a review of its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council in May, Tunisia received at least 10 recommendations4 relating to strengthening accountability for human rights violations by security forces .

By accepting these recommendations Tunisia has committed to take concrete steps to fight impunity.

It is deeply disappointing to see that this bill, which fundamentally threatens the human rights gains Tunisia has made since 2011, back on the table, said Heba Morayef.

Tunisia must abide by its commitments to uphold its human rights obligations by ensuring greater oversight of the security sector and taking concrete steps to address impunity once and for all.

References

  1. ^ advocating (www.france24.com)
  2. ^ report (www.amnesty.org)
  3. ^ complained (www.mosaiquefm.net)
  4. ^ recommendations (www.amnesty.org)