Inquiry into why Diamond sat in Virgin plane cockpit

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The Independent Online

Bob Diamond has long been dubbed "the unacceptable face of banking". Now it seems he is the unacceptable face of flying too.

The "exemplary landing" you have just experienced, the Prime Minister and other passengers on board a Virgin flight from Lagos to London on Tuesday night were told over the tannoy, has been brought to you by "Captain Bob Diamond".

Passengers waiting to leave the aircraft were amused by the announcement, but Department for Transport (DfT) officials saw a more serious side. For one thing, Mr Diamond does not have a licence to fly an Airbus passenger jet carrying, among others, David Cameron, the International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, and the Trade Minister Lord Green.

Virgin Atlantic and Barclays were quick to say that Mr Diamond, chief executive of Barclays Bank, did not, in fact, take the controls. He sat in the seat behind the pilot and watched a professional at work.

But he is understood to have sat in the "jump seat" behind the pilot to watch him control the plane – and in the post-9/11 era passengers are banned from going into cockpits when the engines are running.

DfT officials plan to investigate the incident. "The rules apply to all UK-registered planes and to any plane operating in UK airspace," a spokesman said.