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Fake pilot trio 'sorry for all the trouble'

Published: 11:31AM Monday September 19, 2011 Source: ONE News

Three men are facing charges after an airport security scare that turned out to be a stunt for a TV3 comedy show.
The authorities didn't see the funny side of the fake pilot prank at Auckland Airport.

Three men working on TV3's series Wanna-Ben now face charges of breaching the Civil Aviation Act, and up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine.

Ben Boyce, Wanna-Ben's creator told ONE News: "It was meant to be a harmless skit. Obviously it escalated and as soon as we found out the police were investigating we got in touch with them. And we're sorry for all the trouble we've caused."

Police say the man who donned the pilot's uniform is 32-year-old Bryce Casey, a radio jock on The Rock which is owned by the same company as TV3 - MediaWorks.

CCTV footage appears to show Casey entering Auckland Airport's domestic terminal where police say he tried to get airside before being turned away and leaving in a van.

Irene King of the Airline Industry Association said the incident could have led to people having their flights delayed.

"It could have ultimately resulted in some very intrusive screening of passengers on regional operations," she said.

Today police charged Casey with providing false information at a security check. They also charged Wanna-Ben producer Andrew Robinson, 26, and the star of the show, 33-year-old comedian Ben Boyce, listed on charge sheets as a company director.

Each week, Wanna-Ben sees Boyce search for a new job.

MediaWorks turned a ONE News' camera away from their offices today, but this evening sent a statement with this comment from Ben Boyce: "We did not intend to breach security or cause any worry or concern. This was an attempt at humour which we fully accept was misplaced."

The series Wanna-Ben is currently filming received nearly $600,000 in New Zealand on Air funding.

The agency's CEO told ONE News on the phone that the pilot prank is an editorial matter, and then hung up.

The Wanna-Ben trio were released on bail until the end of next month on the condition they stay well away from the airport.

MediaWorks confirmed that the fake pilot incident was part of a sketch filmed for Wanna-Ben. The company said it was not privy to details of the shoot before it took place on Saturday.

"We have subsequently spoken to the production company about the incident, and are satisfied that the company did not intend to breach airport security, nor create a major security alert," MediaWorks said.

The three Yoink Productions staff involved, Boyce, Casey and Robinson, alerted police as soon as they realised there was concern and are being fully co-operative, MediaWorks said.

"Obviously we would never encourage or condone any illegal activity. We will be monitoring the progress of this matter through the courts and making decisions accordingly."

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock says further inquiries will continue.

"I acknowledge Civil Aviation, Aviation Security, the media and the public for their support to police. There has been magnificent co-operation from all concerned," he said in a statement.

Lovelock said police will make no further comment as the matter is now before the court.