London photographer: 'Jobsworth' security staff at Heathrow destroyed my rare vintage film

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A photographer from London claims “jobsworth” staff at Heathrow Airport ruined her rare vintage films as she flew out to Los Angeles for work.

Ruth Iorio, who once live Instagrammed her child’s home birth, said security at the west London hub put the unused photography equipment worth £200 through an x-ray scanner despite her begging them not to.

Heathrow insisted it would not compromise on “keeping the skies above Britain safe” – but in the process Ms Iorio says they have spoiled the contrast of the antique film meaning she can no longer use it for a photo series featuring her three-year-old child.

Ms Iorio, 38, said most airports allow her to have the film checked by hand at security but on this occasion staff insisted on being unnecessarily fastidious.

Damage: Ms Iorio posted an example on Instagram of film damaged after being zapped by x-rays ahead of a previous flight (Ruth Iorio/Instagram)

She claims she was kept waiting more than half an hour while Terminal 3 security took the film, which is supposed to be kept away from light and refrigerated, from its x-ray proof protective bag and “whacked” it through the scanner while she watched in distress.

Distressed: Photographer Ruth Iorio (Ruth Iorio)

“What annoyed me was how jobsworth they were,” she said.

The Cambridge graduate, who was flying economy class with her son Nye on Monday, said staff insisted the rare film would be unaffected by the rays despite her protests that it wouldn’t be.

Most film can be zapped without the process causing damage, but with high-end professional film the strength of the rays is said to degrade the quality of the finish.

Ms Iorio went on: “I don’t want to be rude but I don’t tell them what to do with luggage.

“I know what I’m doing with film. I think they were just p***ed off because I argued with them.”

The film, some of it sourced from the London Photographer’s Gallery, was going to be used by Ms Iorio in a photo series called Beast, which features arty black-and-white shots of her young son.

Now she says the film is effectively destroyed because it won’t have the colour balance necessary for fine art photography.

‘Jobsworths’: Ms Iorio was preparing to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to LA (Reuters)

She added: “I live in the US and I think it’s absolutely crazy. They’re so anal about everything – so much is a massive hassle. But with film they are fine. This is why I was so surprised by Heathrow.”

Ms Iorio, who splits her time between London and LA, describes herself as a filmmaker, writer, journalist and photographer.

Three years ago she was thrust into the public eye when posted regular updates of her son’s home birth on social media.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said: “Heathrow’s top priority is always the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues.

“Whilst we endeavour to provide alternative screening for sensitive professional film, protecting the security of our airport means it is not always possible.

“We regret that Ms Iorio’s professional film was subject to x-ray screening in this instance, but we cannot compromise on keeping the skies above Britain safe.” 

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