Mary Beard ordered to strip to underwear at Heathrow Airport security

Professor Mary Beard has criticised Heathrow Airport after she was ordered to strip down to her underwear while going through security.

The classicist and broadcaster tweeted that she had been seen by fellow passengers in just a ”little black vest (and) no bra” after being asked to remove her clothing by staff.

“I know rules are rules (and we all depend on airport security) but was a bit surprised to be told to take off what I think is a ‘tunic’ (they thought was a ‘jacket’) at Heathrow security this morning, down to my scrappy undies,” Beard wrote.

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“Much to curiosity/embarrassment of other passengers!”

Heathrow Airport swiftly issued the scholar with an apology, writing: “We are very sorry to hear this and apologise for the experience you have had.”

The airport also requested more details so that it could “look into the matter”.

However, Beard responded by saying she did not want staff to get into trouble.

“That’s OK…I am tough, and I have no desire to see the staff concerned told off (so I am carefully not telling you which terminal). 

“But maybe some general consciousness raising on this one wd be a jolly good idea! [sic].”

The classicist told a follower that while she isn’t normally very easily humiliated she did find the incident a “surprise”.

“Staff polite but insistent (following instructions, I guess, don’t want to get them into trouble).”

Beard’s initial post has garnered more than 1,000 likes since posting with many of the 64-year-old’s fans sharing messages of support.

“There is a private area for passengers to be searched in cases like this. Unacceptable to do it in front of everyone,” one person wrote.

Another added: “So sorry Mary. How humiliating for you!”

A spokesman for Heathrow later said: “Our colleagues work incredibly hard to keep Britain’s skies safe and any passenger is able to be searched in private. We apologise that this did not happen in this instance.”

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