British Airways pilot fined for smuggling cigarettes and alcohol

BA British airways Boeing 777 passenger jet flying in flight quality image
Smuggling: The pilot avoided paying duty on cigarettes and alcohol.

A British Airways pilot who smuggled more than 16,000 cigarettes and 20 litres of alcohol on flights has been fined more than £1300.

Andrew Creelman was the pilot on a flight from Zurich to London and remained on board as a passenger for the onward connection to Edinburgh in November 2011.

When he was stopped by UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff at Edinburgh Airport he was found to be carrying 1000 illegal cigarettes.

Following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the 54-year-old, of Balmoral Drive, Bishopton, Renfrewshire, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of £5,602.16 duty on 16,400 cigarettes and 20 litres of spirits between October 2010 and December 2011.

During an interview with HMRC officers, Creelman, a non-smoker, admitted that he should have declared the cigarettes.

He claimed they were a gift for someone else and the 15,400 cigarettes and spirits, which he had purchased on previous flights to Zurich, were within his duty free allowance.

Martin Brown, assistant director of HMRC Criminal Investigation, said: “Andrew Creelman blatantly abused his position of trust as an airline captain to evade UK duty.

“His actions cost the UK taxpayer money needed to fund vital public services. HMRC works closely with UKBA officers to detect and disrupt this kind of criminal activity. “

A spokesman for BA said: "We take such matters extremely seriously and will always assist the authorities with their investigations.

"Captain Creelman remains suspended from flying as part of the normal disciplinary process.

"In light of his conviction today he will be invited in for the next stage of that process.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further until the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings are known."

Creelman was fined £1320 and told to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £15.00 at City of London Magistrates Court on Friday.

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