Inflight entertainment? Watch villagers below

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Families living in the leafy Surrey village of Dormansland were used to living in privacy. Or so they thought.

But that sense of privacy was shattered when they were told by a fellow resident returning from holiday on board an Emirates flight that she had spotted the village on an in-flight film. The footage was being filmed by a camera linked to the aircraft's fuselage, to allow passengers to see the ground beneath them during the entire flight.

Now, far from being the rural retreat that many had dreamt of, the villagers say they can no longer enjoy their gardens for fear of being under the gaze of thousands of passengers jetting in and out of Gatwick.

The families are now preparing to take on Emirates - the national carrier of Dubai and one of the richest airlines in the world.

David Williams, the vice-chairman of the parish council and a retired financial adviser, said: "There are concerns that someone might be doing some sunbathing in the garden and when an aircraft comes over and you can see it's Emirates you know they have got the cameras rolling.

"It's a discomforting feeling to know people could be looking at you."

The parish council fears the cameras, put on the aircraft for passengers to enjoy a bird's eye view, could be breaching their human rights.

But Emirates, which is headed by the deputy ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, has refused to pull the plug.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: "We have tried to do as much as we possibly can to reassure them that we are not invading their privacy. The images passengers see are fairly low quality, they are not magnified or recorded in any way. It is basically the same view as if people were looking out of their window. The aircraft are probably at about 2,500ft when they fly over."

Despite receiving a letter from Emirates refusing to stop the filming, Mr Williams said the council would not back down. He said: "We may ask the local MP to get involved to try and shame Emirates into switching the cameras off. The villagers are behind what we are trying to achieve. A lot of people are concerned about it. We will plough on."

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative MP for East Surrey, admitted he didn't think there was a legal case, but pledged to help the villagers anyway.

He said: "It's a curious situation. Whilst I understand the point the parish council are making, I don't think there is anything that can be done in law.

"If it's a case of genuine concern then it can't be too much to ask for Emirates to switch the cameras off."