The crew of a Ministry of Defence helicopter broke low-flying rules, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to a Sussex mansion, so that they could spy on an au-pair who was sunbathing, the High Court was told yesterday.
Barry and Anna George, owners of the Old Stables, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, claimed that the 14-tonne Merlin hovered at lower than 500ft (152m) so that the crew could "communicate" with their au-pair. The couple’s barrister, Daniel Crowley, said that the downdraft damaged their glass conservatory. The Georges are claiming £250,000 in damages for what Judge Jonathan Foster, QC, described as an "alleged frolic". The eight-day case is likely to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs. If the MoD loses, the taxpayer will foot the bill.
This is almost enough to make one yearn for a return to the days when the British were sexually repressed. Maybe helicopter pilots need to get their testosterone levels checked before they’re cleared to fly?