A POLICE chief denied that the force was to blame for leaking the identity of a couple suspected of the Gatwick drones chaos.

Sussex Chief Constable Giles York answered questions about the unmanned aircraft which shut the airport for 30 hours before Christmas last year.

The incident was considered a “deliberate and targeted” attack on UK infrastructure and would have required technical knowledge of the airport, police say.

More than 100,000 passengers were affected by flight delays and cancellations.

But after launching Operation Trebor, no suspect was found after police spent nearly £800,000 on the inquiry.

At a performance and accountability meeting, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne asked the Chief Constable about how the message to the public was handled.

Mr York said giving out information had been challenging and the incident was unprecedented.

He feared that the incident could have led to a “catastrophe” if not handled correctly.

But national newspapers including the Daily Mail branded the force “clueless”.

That was after an innocent couple were wrongly speculated as being responsible, only to be released without charge. They said the impact was devastating.

Mr York said: “In order to maintain the integrity of our operation, it is important to outline that we do not release details of people arrested, and did not in this instance.”

He said the main priority throughout was public safety, and said lessons have been learned about drones at airports to prevent a repeat.

New technology and expertise has been shared nationally, Mr York said.