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Did MoD chopper buzz sunbathing au pair?

Conservatory wrecked in alleged low-flying 'frolic'

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An Eastbourne couple has claimed in London's High Court that a Ministry of Defence (MoD) helicopter wrecked their award-winning conservatory while the crew attempted to "communicate" with a sunbathing au pair.

According to the Telegraph, Barry and Anna George's glass outhouse at The Old Stables in Mead Street - which "won an architectural prize following its completion in 2000, and includes a 23ft glass atrium" - allegedly suffered "massive damage to the glass roof" when the 75ft-long, 14-ton Merlin chopper hovered over the structure at "500ft or less" on 23 July 2004.

The Georges' barrister, Daniel Crowley, said the crew "had not got permission to fly at under 1,000ft, as stipulated by MoD regulations", and that the downdraft from the helicopter's rotors provoked the carnage.

James Maxwell-Scott, for the MoD, countered that a "helicopter flying at 500ft or above simply could not have caused the damage".

The matter of the au pair's involvement in the alleged incident is apparently "not being pursued", but Crowley said the Georges "had still not decided their position on whether the damage was caused as the result of what Judge Jonathan Foster QC described as an 'alleged frolic'".

They are, however, pursuing damages of around £250,000. The MoD denies all liability in the case, due to return to court in February. If it loses, the taxpayer will foot the glazing bill, the Telegraph notes. ®

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