Urgent investigation launched after 11-year-old boy flies alone to Rome without passport or boarding pass

 

Ministers have launched an urgent investigation following a catalogue of security errors which allowed a boy of 11 to fly alone to Rome after boarding a flight at Manchester Airport without a passport, boarding card or money.

Airport staff have been suspended after Liam Corcoran evaded five security checks and boarded the Jet2.com flight unaccompanied. The “stowaway” was only discovered when concerned passengers alerted the flight Captain.

The Wythenshawe boy, who had run away from his mother at a Manchester shopping centre three miles from the airport, was returned safely to his family, at the conclusion of his 3,000 mile round trip.

Justine Greening, the Transport secretary, said: "I take any breach of security, very, very seriously. So we are now investigating with Manchester Airport and, indeed the airline, to find out exactly what happened.”

A spokesperson for Jet2.com said: “We are fully investigating the incident as a matter of urgency and the staff involved have been suspended during this investigation.”

Liam’s adventure began when he evaded his mother and made his way to Terminal 1 at the airport, which was packed with holidaymakers. The boy, said to have a keen interest in planes and buses, “tail-gated” a family group as they passed through security.

He was scanned but security failed to realise he was on his own and had no boarding card. He headed to the gate where passengers were boarding the Monday afternoon Jet2.com flight LS791 to Rome. Liam passed through a further security check at the gate without being asked to show either a passport or a boarding card.

Cabin crew failed to check whether he had a boarding-card stub when he boarded the Boeing plane. It is believed that the crew failed to carry out an accurate headcount after Liam strapped himself into a spare seat.

The pilot, alerted by suspicious passengers, radioed back to Manchester, where police informed the boy’s mother that her son was safe - but on his way to Rome. He remained on board after landing at Fiumicino Airport and was returned on the next flight back.

Five members of staff  working for Jet2.com have been suspended from duty while the investigation takes place.

The return flight was delayed by 80 minutes while the plane's crew were questioned by Italian border police. On this occasion, the elusive Corcoran was accompanied by airline staff who were sat with him.

Passenger Sarah Swayne, 26, from Nantwich, said: “He was very talkative and seemed quite un-fazed by it all. He was just sat there chatting away about how he’d been trying to run away from home. He seemed quite innocent really and I don’t think it had sunk in how serious the situation was.”

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “This extremely serious matter is now being urgently investigated. It is clear that documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate.

“The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised.”

Ms Greening said the situation was “an unusual and serious breach and we are keen to find out what has gone on.”

Liam’s father, Aaron Fort, 34, said the boy had walked to the airport after his mother took him to a swimming lesson in Wythenshawe, during which he had become distressed and required the help of a lifeguard.

Fort said: “He must have got changed and given his mother the slip and then walked from the baths in Wythenshawe to the airport. Once there he seems to have mixed with some other children and followed them on the plane. I thought people should be counted on an off but that must not have been the case.” Fort added: “He has never had a passport, never been to Rome and never been abroad.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant - Oxford

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Agent - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation and Support Consultant

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A consultant is required to pro...

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant

£12675 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn