Transatlantic plane turned back in terror alert

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The Independent Online

A British Airways transatlantic flight had to return to London two hours into its journey because of a "data discrepancy" concerning an American passenger, it was revealed today.

US authorities ordered the Mexico City-bound Boeing 747, with 318 passengers on board, to fly back to Heathrow after it had reached a point just west of Ireland.

It is understood that the passenger, a 55-year-old man, was escorted off the plane at Heathrow and that his bags were searched under the Terrorism Act.

A BA spokesman said: "BA flight 243 returned to Heathrow on Friday afternoon due to a data discrepancy with a US citizen.

"The passenger was asked to leave, which he duly did, and collected his bags. The plane was refuelled and left later that day."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "There has been no breach of security at Heathrow as a result of this incident."