Belfast Telegraph

Police admit airport bomb error

PSNI had been warned about device that lay unfound for over two years

By Deborah McAleese

The PSNI has admitted that no security cordons were put in place following warnings of a dissident republican car bomb at Belfast International Airport, which then lay undetected for 906 days.

Just weeks after the undiscovered bomb was planted in 2008 the then US President George W Bush flew into the airport where he was met by ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Following revelations by the Belfast Telegraph that the bomb lay undetected in the airport’s long-stay car park for two-and-a half-years, Chief Constable Matt Baggott has told the Policing Board that police received three warnings that a device had been planted.

Mr Baggott said the first warning contained little information. The second call gave details of a vehicle, which were wrong and the third call identified a vehicle by make and model only.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed last month that the pipe-bomb type device had been left in a car at the long-stay car park on May 7, 2008. It was not discovered until October 30, 2010 when airport staff became suspicious about the car. The bomb failed to detonate properly because of an apparent fault with a timer.

Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt described the incident as a “frightening security blunder”.

Following questions about the PSNI’s response to the bomb warnings the Chief Constable said that airport police were informed and they conducted a search of the short and long-stay car parks. The PSNI checked surrounding roads and other nearby car parks.

Since the incident, which has resulted in one arrest, Mr Baggott said that the senior investigating officer has “discussed the incident with the security manager at Belfast International Airport and highlighted issues in relation to checking of overstayed vehicles”.

Background

Three warnings were made to police on May 7, 2008 claiming that an explosive device had been left in a car in the long-stay car park at Belfast International Airport. The device was not discovered until October 2010. During the time the device lay undetected more than 10 million people, including former US President George W Bush, passed through the airport.

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