Heathrow Airport has apologised to Professor Mary Beard after she was asked to strip down to “my scrappy undies” while going through security.
The classicist and broadcaster said she was seen by fellow passengers in “my little black vest (and) no bra” after being asked to remove clothing.
“I know rules are rules (and we all depend on airport security) but was a bit surprised to be told to take off what I think is a ‘tunic’ (they thought was a ‘jacket’) at Heathrow security this morning,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Down to my scrappy undies. Much to curiosity/embarrassment of other passengers!”
Heathrow Airport apologised to Beard in its response on Twitter: “We are very sorry to hear this and apologise for the experience you have had.”
The airport requested more details so “that we can look into the matter”.
Prof Beard responded that she did not want staff to get into trouble but some “general consciousness-raising” would be worthwhile.
She replied: “I am tough, and I have no desire to see the staff concerned told off (so I am carefully not telling you which terminal).
“But maybe some general consciousness-raising on this one would be a jolly good idea!”
The classicist added: “To be honest, I’m not very easily humiliated, but it was a surprise! Staff polite but insistent (following instructions, I guess, don’t want to get them into trouble).”
A spokesman for Heathrow later said: “Our colleagues work incredibly hard to keep Britain’s skies safe and any passenger is able to be searched in private. We apologise that this did not happen in this instance.”
Beard, who is Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, has fronted documentaries including Meet The Romans, Civilisations and Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit.