Taiwanese guide held by police at London airport

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - Page 4

A Taiwanese tour guide was detained by British airport police recently at London’s Heathrow Airport for offending airport security personnel, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

“Local people should learn from this incident and avoid offending security staff when they go through airport security in foreign countries,” said Yaser Cheng (鄭泰祥), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs.

The Taiwanese guide drew the attention of security personnel at the airport last month when she failed to heed instructions to stand in line, but continued to move randomly around a security checkpoint, Cheng said.

An inspector told her to stand still, but the guide paid no attention, and went as far as putting her hand on the inspector’s shoulder and demanding that he give her his name.

The inspector immediately called the airport police, who took the guide into custody for questioning.

The guide was forced to seek the help of Taiwan’s representative office in London.

“The British security authorities took the case very seriously,” Cheng said, adding that the guide was only released after Taiwanese diplomatic staff explained that the case had been mainly caused by “cultural differences.”

Without the help of the representative office, the tour guide could have been charged with obstructing an official in the performance of his duty, Cheng said.

He reminded Taiwanese about the importance of respecting host countries’ law enforcement personnel when they travel abroad, especially when going through security inspections at foreign airports.

“If you need assistance from foreign security personnel, you should never, ever physically touch a foreign law enforcement officer,” Cheng said.