British plane spotters held in Kenya 'escape with a fine'


Four British plane spotters arrested in Kenya on terror offences are understood to have escaped with a fine.

They have been held since earlier this month when they were arrested and questioned after allegedly being caught taking pictures in an airport, but they were apparently threatened with jail unless they admitted the charges, a relative said.

The men, all from Greater Manchester and named as Ian Glover, 46, Steve Gibson, 60, Eddie Swift and Paul Abbott, both 47, are said to have been taking photos of planes taking off at Nairobi's Wilson Airport while they sat in a bar.

They appeared in court on Monday morning and were issued with fines, with Kenyan newspaper The Star reporting that they were each fined 100,000 Kenyan shillings, which is about £684. 

It is understood they will remain in custody until the fines are paid.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing support to four British men following their arrest in Kenya on March 14. Consular staff have visited them in custody and remain in contact with them and the Kenyan authorities."

It is understood the men thought they had been granted permission from airport officials, but were arrested by police.

Before their court appearance, Mr Swift's brother Peter, from Stockport, said they were hoping to be let off with a fine after admitting trespassing.

But he said their confession was forced out of them, telling The Mail On Sunday: "I can tell you they pleaded guilty under duress and without any legal representation.

"They were threatened with prison if they didn't plead guilty."

The four appeared in court last Monday and were remanded in custody charged with using a mobile phone app to monitor flights and trespassing.

On Wednesday they were charged with taking photos at an airport without authority, Kenyan newspaper The Star said.

The four men were on a plane-spotting trip to Africa and posted photos from their holiday on Facebook, visiting Ethiopia before arriving in Kenya.

The men have pursued their hobby all over the world. Photos on Mr Abbott's page show trips to Europe, South America, Japan, the Middle East and former Soviet countries.

A comment on Mr Gibson's Facebook page - with a photo apparently showing Mr Glover at a secret air base in Ukraine - suggested he had been arrested while on a previous plane-spotting holiday.