-War hero said guards asked how he would feel if labelled a 'drunken old duffer'
-He was detained for an hour and ordered to apologise
-Retired 67-year-old calls it 'Orwellian nightmare'
By JONATHAN PETRE and EMMA REYNOLDS
Humiliated: David Jones, who created Fireman Sam, is outraged by the way he was treated at Gatwick Airport
The creator of the popular children’s character Fireman Sam has told how he was accused of racism after making a light-hearted remark at Gatwick airport.
Dave Jones said he experienced an ‘Orwellian nightmare’ after commenting on the ease with which a woman with her face covered by a hijab, another form of the burqa, had walked through security controls.
As he placed his scarf and other items into a tray to pass through an X-ray scanner, he quipped to an official: ‘If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.’
Tight security: David Jones was detained after being searched at Gatwick Airport
To his astonishment, he was met on the other side of the barrier by officials who detained him for an hour in an attempt to force him to apologise and the police were called.
Mr Jones, 67, who was supposed to be meeting his daughters - aged 30 and 39 - said: ‘Something like George Orwell’s 1984 now seems to have arrived in Gatwick airport.
‘I feel my rights as an individual have been violated.
‘What I underwent amounts to intimidation, unlawful arrest and detention. I was humiliated and denigrated in full public view.
A pillar of the community: The popular Fireman Sam cartoon was created by David Jones who was accused of racism
‘I am a 67-year-old pensioner and have lived my life within the law.
‘I do not have even one point on my driving licence.’
Mr Jones said that when he had made his original remark, the guard had appeared to agree with him, responding: ‘I know what you mean, but we have our rules and you aren’t allowed to say that.’
As he went through security where he hoped to meet up with his two grown-up daughters, he was confronted by a woman official who said he was being held because he had made an offensive remark.
Angry: Mr Jones, 67, was escorted through security under a police guard
Mr Jones, a former member of the Household Cavalry and a retired fireman, denied saying anything racist. But she took his passport and boarding pass and escorted him to another area where she questioned him.
He said: ‘It was impossible to get her to listen to reason. We were then joined by a second female security guard who stated that she was Muslim and was deeply distressed by my comment.
Mr Jones, who now lives in Portugal and makes bronze statues for Help the Heroes, said he was not even sure the woman had been present when he had spoken - and he has now requested the CCTV footage.
‘I again stated that I had not made a racist remark but purely an observation that we were in a maximum security situation being searched thoroughly while a woman with her face covered walked through.
‘I made no reference to race or religion. I did not swear or raise my voice.’
Noble citizen: Mr Jones in his military garb, left, and in his days as a fireman
After about 20 minutes, he asked the security guard whether he was going to be charged. She said no, but he could not leave until he apologised.
She then asked him how he would feel if he was called a 'drunken old duffer', before a British Airways manager arrived to join in the row.
Mr Jones asked for a policeman to be called but, he said, it was clear the officer was ‘keeping to the politically correct code’.
'These people were very politically aware, and frightened for their jobs, in my opinion,' he added.
He demanded that the officer should arrest him if there was a case against him. Mr Jones said: ‘I was told that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.’
The matter was only resolved when Mr Jones agreed his remarks ‘could’ have been regarded as offensive.
Mr Jones was then led through security with a police guard in front of waiting crowds, which he described as 'very embarrassing'.
'I've heard they have training in how to deal with the public,' he said of the airport staff. 'This guard was abusing her power.
'She certainly shouldn't have been allowed to deal with public.'
Mr Jones, who now lives in the Algarve, added: 'We don't get that sort of thing out here.'
The creator of the much-loved Fireman Sam continues to write books and for cartoons along with his charitable work in his retirement.
He rode on the investiture of the Prince of Wales and visited the Knightsbridge barracks as a VIP guest this week with his two daughters.
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: ‘Our security team are looking at what happened. The matter was dealt with and the passenger made his journey.’