Moray danger flagged as SAR pilot targeted with laser

SAR helicopter targeted with a laser pen

THE POSITION OF a Moray town directly under the flight path for Inverness Airport puts it at risk from laser-pen attacks on aircraft.

That is the view being expressed by an MSP who is calling on the Scottish Government to tighten the law on laser light pens. His call comes following a Search and Rescue helicopter being targeted as well as a London to New York flight being aborted following an attack.

John Finnie MSP has written to the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, and Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, seeking an urgent review of the law on the sale and possession of laser pens.

He has also called for the provision of improved technology that would enable police to identify culprits and protect aircraft.

Mr Finnie said: “The danger posed by laser pen attacks on aircraft is not a new one, but they do seem to be increasingly frequent and more powerful lasers are more easily available than ever before.

“Just a fortnight before the widely-reported incident on Sunday that forced a Virgin Atlantic flight to turn back, the Coastguard helicopter operating from Inverness Airport was targeted while conducting a search. “Good fortune and expert flying skills prevented what could have been a major disaster.

“Aircraft using Inverness Airport circle low over Forres, making this one an area most at risk if the worst were to happen. We must not wait for a catastrophic loss of life before taking action on this dangerous crime.”

The MSP has asked the Justice Secretary and Lord Advocate to undertake an urgent review of the law – insisting that it should reflect the serious nature of the crime and its “horrific potential consequences”.

He added: “I’m also calling for a multi-agency effort to improve our technical ability to locate the source of laser-pen attacks.”

A former Northern Constabulary police officer, John Finnie is the Scottish Greens national spokesperson on justice. He has been a Highlands and Islands MSP since 2011 and is the lead Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Scottish election.