Briton fined for flying drones over Buckingham Palace, soccer grounds

A drone in flight at the DroneMastersBerlin competition in Berlin, Germany, on Sept 6 2015.
A drone in flight at the DroneMastersBerlin competition in Berlin, Germany, on Sept 6 2015. EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - A man who flew drones over parliament, Buckingham Palace and English premier league soccer stadiums was fined £1,800 (S$3,900) on Tuesday in what prosecutors believe was the first case of its kind in Britain.

Nigel Wilson, 42, pleaded guilty to nine offences of illegally flying unmanned aircraft over stadia during matches and near the capital's landmarks last year, London's Metropolitan Police said.

In one incident, he flew a drone over Liverpool's Anfield stadium during the team's Champions League match against Bulgarian side Ludogorets before posting footage he filmed of the match on YouTube.

Police said the drone had been flown close to officers mounted on horses, causing the animals to rear, only narrowly avoiding hitting people nearby.

He also flew drones over Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, Manchester City's Etihad Stadium and second division Derby's iPro Stadium during match days.

Detectives found Wilson, from Nottingham, had also been flying drones over or near the Houses of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth's Buckingham Palace residence and London's tallest building, the Shard skyscraper.

By law, drones must be kept in sight at all times and cannot be flown in congested areas or within 50m of a person or building.

"Flying drones over congested areas or buildings can pose great risks to public safety and security, and Wilson put many people in real danger," said London police's Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth.

Wilson, who appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court, was also banned from owning, flying or helping anyone else use a drone for the next two years.