Armed officers from Sussex Police stormed the home of Paul and Elaine Gait in December 2018 and held them in the cells for 36 hours, after drones had caused chaos at the London airport that month.
While Mr Gait, who was employed by Allard Windows – a double-glazing company in Crowborough – and his wife, were later released without charge, they sued the force for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.
In an out of court settlement, lawyers representing the Gaits said Sussex Police have agreed to pay the couple the £55,000 in damages, and will also have to pay their legal costs of £145,000.
Over three days in December 2018, planes were grounded and hundreds of flights cancelled at Gatwick Airport while police investigated multiple drone sightings.
To date, nobody has been charged with any offence, and police have subsequently said that the drones sighted may have been Sussex Police’s own aircraft.
In a statement released by their legal team yesterday [Sunday June 14], the couple said: “We are delighted to have finally received vindication, it has been a very long fight for justice.
“It has taken lengthy legal proceedings to obtain resolution from the police and to finally have closure on this distressing time.”
In a letter to the couple, Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable David Miller said he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the ‘traumatic’ experience the couple went through.
He added: “Unfortunately, when the police carry out their functions on behalf of the public, sometimes innocent people are arrested as part of necessary police investigations in the public interest.
“However, we recognise that things could have been done differently and, as a result, Sussex Police have agreed to pay you compensation and legal costs.”