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UK jet smuggled knives inquiry

LONDON, England -- A British tabloid says that a reporter smuggled three lethal blades past airport security checks and onto a UK domestic flight.

The Sunday People said its "investigator" was able to pull out a razor-sharp cleaver, stiletto knife and dagger at 30,000 feet on a British Airways flight from London's Heathrow airport to Manchester, northern England.

They were able to pass through security and x-ray machines at both airports without being searched or challenged, it was alleged.

The newspaper included a photograph of its investigator seated three rows back from the cockpit displaying the weapons.

Message board: Safety in the skies 

On the way back, security suspicions were not raised despite their spending just 30 minutes at Manchester airport before boarding a flight to London, the newspaper alleged. The date of the flight was not given

The newspaper said the implements are imported from the U.S. and openly sold on the Internet by a firm based in Lancashire, northern England.

Last week, Briton Richard C. Reid allegedly tried to blow up an American Airlines plane with explosives in his shoes. Reid has been charged in Boston with interfering with a flight crew through intimidation or assault. The FBI has indicated that additional charges are likely.

The three blades the tabloid said were taken aboard were disguised as everyday items. One five-inch blade was made from reinforced nylon and made to look like a lady's hair comb; the penknife was a three-inch stiletto blade disguised as a ballpoint pen, and the Spydercard is a slim folding, stainless steel cleaver resembling a credit card.

The newspaper said the comb knife was tucked into a briefcase and the pen and credit card knives were in jacket pockets when the journalist checked in at Heathrow.

"Any potential weapon designed to evade security is a matter of concern," a British Airports Authority spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

"We will follow up the issues raised with the Department of Transport. Anyone we suspect to be deliberately trying to conceal sharp objects may be liable to prosecution."

The spokeswoman said security at Heathrow was the best in the world and that the airports authority had confiscated tens of thousands of weapons since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Prominent signs at Heathrow warn travellers that items such as scissors, knitting needles, corkscrews and nail files are banned from hand luggage.

The British government's Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) said it would also be investigating the allegations.

A spokesman told the Press Association: "We are obviously concerned at this report and will be discussing it with British Airways and the British Airports Authority.

"We investigate every incident or suggestion of weakness in security."

British Airways confirmed it will be launching its own investigation into the claims.

A spokesman told PA: "We are very concerned to hear about this and will be talking to the Government to find what can be done to prevent such items getting on board aircraft."

PA reported that the Internet Web site involved sells a small number of concealed weapons.

The glass reinforced Zytel nylon Stealth Defence Comb/Brush with a detachable head revealing a five inch knife blade is described as a "potentially dangerous weapon" sold only for novelty purposes.

The "totally undetectable" Covert Action Tanto -- a full sized knife -- is said to be invisible to metal screening devices and "can easily pass unnoticed through security checks".

A CIA Knife, also "impervious to metal detectors" is said to have an extremely strong point and is easily sharpened with a nail file.

Other goods on sale on the Web site's gadget section, said PA, are a full sized stainless-steel folding knife with similar dimensions to a credit card and a pen knife -- the top of which can be removed to reveal a four-inch sharpened steel blade.




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