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Sun, Oct 21, 2007

Sussex Homeowners Claim Helo Took Pass At Sunbathing Nanny

Merlin Crew Flew By For A Closer Look

The crew of a British Ministry of Defense helicopter is accused of breaking low-flying rules, so they could spy on a female sunbather.

The case ended up in an English High Court over claims that the 14 ton Merlin helicopter hovered at altitudes less than 500 feet so that the crew could "communicate" with the sunbather. In the process, the helicopter's downwash damaged a glass conservatory, reports the London Times.

The Ministry has denied all liability, arguing that the pilot was flying in airspace that did not require permission for low flights, nor was restricted.

The attorney for the Georges -- owners of the home named Old Stables, in Eastbourne, East Sussex -- are claiming $512,000 in damages. A judge in the case is referring to this incident as an "alleged frolic."

The case will be heard in court February 2008, is expected to take eight days to conclude, and has the possibility of generating hundreds of thousands in legal costs.

Should the Ministry of Defense lose the court case, taxpayers will foot the bill.

FMI: www.mod.uk/defenceinternet/home

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