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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Malaga passenger defends actions
Manchester Airport
Some passengers left the Manchester-bound flight
A man on board a flight to Manchester from Malaga has defended passengers' actions after their suspicions led to two men being removed from the plane.

David Wearden, 42, from Chester, said it was reports that the pair had been overheard claiming they had 30 minutes left to live which led to concerns.

He denied passengers had "mutinied" and demanded the men's removal, saying the atmosphere onboard had been "quiet".

The men, who reportedly looked Arabic, were later cleared to travel.

They were allowed to fly back to the UK on another flight.

'Quiet unease'

Mr Wearden, who was returning from a nine-day holiday with his wife and three children, said the first he became aware anything unusual was happening was as the plane was due to take off and "the family in front of us just got off".

"We were all very puzzled by what was going on. There was no announcement," he said.

Most people were still very much on the plane, but people were upset by what was going on
David Wearden

The financial services lawyer said there was a feeling of "quiet unease" and children began panicking.

"There wasn't any collective action. There was no shouting or demands for those people to be taken off at all. It was very calm.

"Most people were still very much on the plane, but people were upset by what was going on."

Pilot's actions

The captain then spoke to the two men and returned to the cockpit with their passports, said Mr Wearden.

"We were then asked to get off the plane and go back to the airport where they did a full security check."

It was then, he said, that his wife Susanne began talking to another passenger who said she had sat next to the two men.

"She said she had heard them saying it was the last 30 minutes of their lives," said Mr Wearden.

"It may well be that the two simply thought they were being funny, but it perhaps better explains the passenger reaction."

He denied this reaction had been racist. "You hear about people making jokes about these things in airports and being arrested and told it is not a joking matter in the current climate. Well this was another case of that."

At the time, he said, he had felt annoyed as he had wanted to "get home and sleep".

"I felt that if people are going to muck around like that they should be the ones that are inconvenienced," he said.

In a statement referring to the incident, Monarch Airlines said: "The captain was concerned about the security surrounding the two gentlemen on the aircraft and the decision was taken to remove them from the flight for further security checks.

"The two passengers offloaded from the flight were later cleared by airport security and rebooked to travel back to Manchester on a later flight."


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