Man fined after flying drones over Premier League stadiums

A man has admitted illegally flying drones over professional football matches and London landmarks.

Nigel Wilson admitted nine breaches of taking video over football grounds and tourist attractions last year.

Wilson, from Bingham, Nottinghamshire, was originally accused of 17 breaches of the Air Navigation Order but some charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

He was fined £1,800 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

It was the first case in England of a person being prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service for using drones after a police-led operation.

Wilson, 42, was accused by Scotland Yard of flying the aircraft unmanned and “failing to maintain direct visual contact”.

Nigel WilsonThe charges he admitted included flying the drone on:
  • September 16 – Liverpool v Ludogorets FC at Anfield
  • September 23 – Derby County v Reading at iPro Stadium, Derby
  • September 27 – Palace of Westminster, London
  • September 27 – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium, London
  • October 9 – Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace and north bank of the River Thames in London
  • October 18 – Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium, Manchester

The court heard police horses were startled by Wilson’s device as it flew over a Champions League group stage game between Liverpool and Bulgarian visitors Ludogorets at Anfield.

He was also twice arrested in London and had his drones confiscated.

Ignored safety warnings

District Judge Quentin Purdy told Wilson, a security guard, he had put the public at risk by flying the drones over busy, built-up areas.

Emirates Stadium, London

He said: “At each and every one of these places an accident could have occurred simply by a gust of wind or something of that nature taking it out of your control.

“In each and every case you knew what you were doing. Several times you were warned by police, who seized drones from you, and on numerous occasions by people posting on your YouTube channel.

“It was the height of arrogance in terms of public safety.”

Wilson, a father-of-two, shot the videos using three unmanned aircraft and uploaded them to his YouTube channel, PV2+ Adventures.

Susan Bryant, defending, described Wilson as a “hobbyist”, adding: “It was something he put a great amount of time into in terms of improving his skill.”

464 gray line

The law on drones – Air Navigation Order 2009

Drone

Operators of any small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly them over or within 150 metres of any congested area, over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 people or within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the user’s control, unless they have obtained permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Users must also maintain direct visual contact with a drone throughout its flight path so they can avoid collisions with people and buildings.