Airport bomb scare over Edinburgh haggis

The bomb turned out to be a Macsween's haggis. Picture: Neil Hanna
The bomb turned out to be a Macsween's haggis. Picture: Neil Hanna
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AIRPORT security staff who suspected a passenger of carrying plastic explosives found he had a haggis in his hand luggage.

Ian Blake was stopped as he passed through Birmingham Airport on his way from Inverness to see a friend in Dublin.

The “bomb” was a chieftain o’ the pudding race haggis which had triggered the airport’s scanner.

Although airport staff were concerned about the harmless haggis, they failed to notice was that Mr Blake, a keen kilt-wearer, was also carrying a sgian dubh, the knife worn as part of the traditional Highland dress.

Mr Blake, a well-known local novelist and poet, was catching a connecting flight at Birmingham.

As he went through the scanner at that airport that security staff got excited over the MacSween’s of Edinburgh haggis.

Mr Blake, a former English teacher of Melvaig, near Gairloch in Wester Ross, explained: “I was going to visit an elderly friend in Dublin recently and as she is originally from Edinburgh I thought she might like a MacSween’s haggis as a taste of home.

“I was only going over for two nights so I just had one small bag. As I was going through the scanning device, airport security staff pulled me out of the line and said ‘We think you have a suspected plastic explosive in your luggage, sir’.

“Then they took out the haggis and started examining it. I don’t think it was the plastic wrapping that was suspect, I think it was the actual consistency or denseness of our national dish.

“Maybe they thought I was disguising plastic explosive as a haggis?

“When they read the labelling and so on they realised that it was just a sonsie haggis and I was allowed to go on my way. I think they were a bit embarrassed. I thought the whole thing was highly amusing but security staff are usually pretty po-faced and they didn’t really see the joke.

“The ironic thing was I was also carrying my sgian dubh. It was inside a pair of shoes in my bag. I thought the scanner might pick up the metal on the sgian-dubh but it didn’t. It was just the haggis that they thought might be dangerous.”

Mr Blake was so amused by his experience that, in the custom of the Bard Rabbie Burns, he felt moved to write a poem about it: “On Being Hauled Out of the Line by Security at Birmingham Airport”.

Added Mr Blake wryly: “Perhaps with the independence vote coming up this year, English airport staff will now start stopping people for carrying other dangerous Scottish icons such as the thistle.

“They might want to banish our national flower as well as well as our national dish! But in this day and age I think scanners should be able to recognise the sonsie face of the haggis.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport, said: “The safety and security of passengers is our number one priority. Each and every passenger is required to go through all of the necessary security screening checks, as set out by the Department for Transport.”