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Dame Mary Beard: I had to strip to ‘scrappy undies’ at airport

Down to her scan-ties: Prof Mary Beard was ordered to take off her top by security PICTURE: GETTY

TV HISTORIAN Prof Dame Mary Beard told yesterday how she was made to strip ‘down to my scrappy undies’ in front of other passengers at Heathrow.

The 64-year-old Radio 4 presenter was seen by fellow travellers in just ‘my little black vest (and) no bra’ after being told to remove what she said was a tunic — and security officials declared was a jacket.

On Twitter, she later gave Heathrow a dressing down. She tweeted: ‘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, down to my scrappy undies. Much to curiosity/embarrassment of other passengers!’

Dressing down: Prof Beard’s tweet yesterday

Bosses at Heathrow quickly responded to the scholar — made a dame by the Queen last year — saying: ‘We are very sorry to hear this and apologise for the experience you have had.’

Dame Mary 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 told a follower: ‘My little black vest, no bra, not a good look!’

And she 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.’