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Europe's stupid aeroplane security rules have received a public kicking from the European Community's Court of Justice, which ruled it is unfair to confiscate items from passengers if you don't tell them beforehand what they cannot carry onto planes.

Regulations adopted in 2002 for standard items not permitted on board aircraft explained in general terms what items were banned. It included items such as ‘Bludgeons: Blackjacks, billy clubs, baseball clubs or similar instruments’. But there was also a secret annex of items which could not be revealed to passengers and would only be revealed to security bodies.

Since the list of banned items was never published, people had no chance of removing such items from their luggage. The Court ruled that the list could have no binding force because it was kept secret for no good reason.

The existence of the list came to light in 2005 when a stroppy Austrian called Gottfried Heinrich was stopped at Vienna-Schwechat Airport with tennis racquets in his hand luggage. He was told racquets were a banned item but carried on and boarded the aircraft. He was then removed by security.

Heinrich took action in the Austrian courts claiming action taken against him was illegal. The Austrian court took the matter to the ECJ. The court ruled that regulations do not become law until they are published in the Official Journal.

Golf clubs and fishing rods were also on the list, which will need to be published in full if it is to become a binding European law. ®

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