‘Storm in teacup’ claim over Pendle men in plane ‘bomb’ court case

After the plane landed
After the plane landed

A mid-air drama in which a Boeing 777 with 322 people on board was diverted from Manchester to Stansted after an alleged bomb threat was described in court today as “a storm in a teacup.”

Barrister Simon Mayo QC, for one of the Pendle defendants, put it to a key witness, Ferzana Rana, that the incident was “a storm in a teacup”.

She told a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court passengers had been annoyed they were diverted to the Essex airport instead of landing in Manchester and said she hadn’t “felt threatened.”

Fighter jets were scrambled to escort the Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 over the North Sea, the court has been told.

However, giving evidence, Mrs Rana told jurors: “It could have amounted to much but didn’t. I didn’t feel threatened or intimidated. It was idiotic behaviour. I only heard the two men joking after landing at Stansted ‘they think there’s a bomb on board.’”

Supermarket employee Tayyab Subhani (30), of Townley Street, Brierfield. and restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar (42), of Hallam Street, Nelson, deny endangering the safety of the Boeing 777 by communicating intentionally that some passengers and crew would be killed and the aircraft blown up.

Mrs Rana told the court she heard Safdar threaten to kill a male steward and said she was asked during the flight by another steward if she had heard the word “bomb” used and told him she hadn’t.

In cross examination, she agreed she made it “abundantly clear” to the steward that Safdar had not said anything about a bomb or anything that could be interpreted as indicating they had a bomb.

She added the other steward had not taken the death threat seriously, although she agreed it was an “idiotic comment.”

Simon Mayo, for Safdar, asked her: “It was a storm in a teacup - it didn’t amount to very much,” to which she said it “could have but didn’t.”

He asked: “Once the plane landed there was a bit of discussion about what happened and a lot were showing annoyance about being diverted over a trivial incident?”

She replied: “Yes, a lot of people said that,” and she agreed “not everyone was of the same view about the right and wrongs.”

The hearing continues.