A father was interrogated by armed airport security who mistook his son’s surprise birthday cake – for a bomb.
Justin Barrett, 41, was stunned when the Sainsbury’s Wiggles the Caterpillar cake sparked a major security alert at Stansted Airport.
Mr Barrett had planned to surprise his son Freddie with the cake for his ninth birthday by flying out to meet him in Spain, where the youngster was on holiday with the rest of his family.
But after setting off sensors at passport control Mr Barrett was bundled into a private room, held under armed guard, interrogated and even forced to remove clothing.
His watch initially set off the metal detector before the x-ray machine picked up the cake and security staff received a positive result for explosives when they tested it.
Mr Barrett claimed security staff subjected him to a thorough body search and said: “I can’t think of place they didn’t touch.”
He said: “I’d had the cake in my hand luggage and customs asked to check inside after it had passed through the x-ray machine.
“To the officer’s surprise there was a chocolate Caterpillar cake inside my bag. He then swabbed the inside of the bag and put it into a little machine.
“That’s when it ended up going bleep and the customs officer said it had found traces of explosives.
“The officer swabbed all the items in my bag. Everything was tested but it was just the cake box and my hands that were testing positive for traces of explosives.
“So they took me to a side room, which I can’t exactly say was light-hearted as there were armed guards surrounding me.
“They then asked me to remove my top and began a thorough search of my body.
“I can’t think of any places they did not touch, which was not exactly pleasant.
“But after my story checked out they realised it was just a cake they eventually let me go.”
Mr Barrett, of Dartford, Kent, was travelling on his own after staying at home to work when he was detained on August 16 before jetting out to Alicante, Spain, with Ryanair.
After an anxious 40 minutes, Mr Barrett – who ironically works in the security industry – was released with the cause of the positive test being attributed to the plastic wrapping on the cake box.
Astonishingly, there was a chemical in the wrapping called acetate, which can show up as explosives on certain airport sensors.
He added: “I offered them a piece of the cake, as I had a back up in my main luggage, but they said I could save it for my son.
“But the most embarrassing thing was when they pulled out the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy I was carrying for my wife. Half the airport probably thought I was into mummy porn.
“To be honest, it was all very light-hearted and I totally understand they had to follow their procedures.
“I was worried they would want to test the cake itself and I’d have to explain a half-eaten cake to my son.”
A Stansted Airport spokesman said innocent items can often trigger alarms but that staff have a duty to protect airport passengers.
He said: “Our security officers are trained to be 100% certain as to the reason for any activation during the security process and a more detailed search and questioning may be required.
“While some completely innocent items can trigger the alarms, our overriding priority has to be providing a safe and secure airport for passengers and staff.”
A spokesman from Sainsbury’s was left baffled by the incident and said the supermarket giant has launched an investigation in to the incident.
He said: “This is the first time we have heard of this kind of thing happening and we are investigating it.
“We’re very sorry for the inconvenience this caused to our customer.”