Has Michael McIntyre become the unwitting subject of a privacy row?

Police helicopter Twitter feed appears to tweet photo of the 'energetic funny man', prompting criticism

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The Independent Online

The comedian Michael McIntyre may just have become the unwitting subject of a privacy row after the police appeared to tweet a photo of him in the street.

The tweet, posted by the NPAS London Twitter feed for helicopters used by the Metropolitan Police, asked followers to guess which "energetic funny man" they had spotted in the capital.

It prompted a less than enthusiastic response - with some tweeters objecting that the comedian's privacy had been invaded or that the tweet was "creepy".

Later on Wednesday, the NPAS [National Police Air Service] London Twitter feed deleted the tweet following the barrage of criticism.

A spokesperson for McIntyre said the whole thing was ridiculous, telling The Independent “They should be spending their time more wisely.”

Users are questioning whether the police should have been using their helicopters and cameras in this way.

Rob Wilton tweeted: "Did you seek the individual's consent? Or is this an abuse of your considerable surveillance powers?"

The photo was at least "kinda creepy", as one user put it.

Rosie R added: "Wonder how Mr McIntyre feels about this invasion of privacy! Did you ask his permission to tweet it?"

The NPAS said the tweet did not breach the law "as far as we know" but that it was deleted because it was felt to be inappropriate.

Supt Richard Watson, ground operations director at the NPAS, said: "We are aware of the tweet and, as far as we are aware, it does not breach any data protection legislation.

"We feel however it was inappropriate and it has since been removed.

"We will be speaking to the person who posted the tweet."

The National Police Air Service, whose headquarters are in West Yorkshire, operate helicopters on behalf of police forces up and down the country including the Met.

The Metropolitan Police started using the NPAS earlier this year.

Due to budget restraints, the NPAS has recently said it will be closing 10 of its helicopter bases to offer a ‘more efficient service’.