Photographer’s cancer medication triggers ‘terrorism’ alert (update)
July 7, 2010
A former newspaper photographer triggered a UK terrorism alert when radioactive medication he was taking for treatment of thyroid cancer set off an alarm as he left a cross-Channel ferry.
Leica M6 camera user Peter Davies, 64 – who has worked at newspapers including the Daily Express and the Mirror – was returning from a holiday in France with his partner when UK Border Agency officials stopped him as he drove off a Norfolkline ferry on Monday morning.
Peter said that when he had boarded the ferry at Dunkirk there was no apparent problem.
It was only when he disembarked at Dover that UK border officials stopped him – sweeping his car with a Geiger counter to check for potentially radioactive material.
?I was quite surprised.. and I did produce my press card,? he told us.
?They told me I had triggered off a radiological alarm.?
Peter is being treated with a radioactive isotope called Iodine 131 by doctors at St Bartholomew?s Hospital in London.
Officials allowed Peter to return home to Essex when he produced a letter from the hospital, outlining the treatment he is taking.
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: ‘The Government is committed to protecting the UK from terrorism. As part of that strategy, the UK Border Agency has scanners in position at ports of entry to the country, such as Dover, to detect and prevent the attempted illicit importation of radiological materials that could be used in terrorist devices. Vehicles, freight and passengers entering the UK are all screened.’
He added: ‘The equipment is designed to detect radiological emissions so will also alarm when triggered by sources of radiation which are legitimate. This could include items like ceramics, cement or fertiliser which contain naturally occurring radiological materials or, as in this case, certain medical treatments.’