Last updated : 26 January 2007 By Editor
From the Mirror:

The Manchester United spy in the sky cameraman last night insisted he hadn't got a clue what he was filming because his client was extra secretive.
David Goddard said he was only given map details of a site and wasn't told it was the team's training ground.

He spoke out as it was revealed United manager Sir Alex Ferguson blew his top when he heard his tactics sessions had been spied on from the Cessna.
Mr Goddard refused to identify the person who ordered the job. He said:

“A client requested vertical photography on a site close to Manchester. I was given grid references only for it.

“At no stage was I told by the client that this was the training ground of Manchester United. I checked the site on Ordnance Survey and Civil Aviation Authority charts for its status and any contentious issues.

“I checked with Manchester air traffic control to confirm there were no problems filming the site at Carrington. They were fully aware we were filming it.”

Three other flights were said to have been carried out by other agencies late last year.

Fergie was furious when he learned the latest footage of training sessions was whisked to a service station close to Heathrow and handed to a mystery client by Mr Goddard.

The full story from yesterday:

Mystery last night surrounded the whereabouts of aerial footage taken of Manchester United stars in top-secret training sessions.

It remained unclear who authorised the filming in a specially converted Cessna light aircraft and whether the material is destined for this country or abroad.

Videos and stills of the training were driven from a Derbyshire airfield to Heston Services on the M4 - a mile from Heathrow airport - and handed to a mystery client in a Chrysler Grand Voyager with blacked-out windows.

He shook hands with the delivery man - one of two on board the Cessna 172 Skyhawk commissioned by a photographic agency - then left after a 30-second encounter.

Earlier, the Mirror watched as the plane - registration G-CBME - passed over United's high-security training complex at Carrington while manager Sir Alex Ferguson would have been putting his team through their paces. The sky blue-striped Cessna, owned by a company called Skytrax Aviation, swooped down to about 1,500ft to get the best shots.

It is believed three other spying mission have been carried out. The one we saw was last Wednesday morning.

A huge circular lens was clearly visible from the ground. A panel had been unscrewed from the belly of the plane providing a gap for both video and stills cameras to operate.

The plane skirted around the edge of the heavily guarded training ground before heading off into the distance.

The plane had taken off in fierce cross winds from tiny Egginton airfield 60 miles away in Derbyshire 40 minutes earlier. It arrived back at the grass airstrip 2.05pm with its potentially damaging cargo.

One of the men then jumped into an estate car and sped south and on to the M40. When he reached the M25 he joined the M4 and drove towards London, arriving at Heston Services near Heathrow airport where he was flagged down by the client in the Chrysler.

An A4 sized silver coloured metal case was handed over. The contact smiled, patted the delivery man on the shoulder and then left.

The Mirror was alerted to the secret mission after a series of flight plans over Carrington were logged with Manchester air traffic control. An ATC source said:

“We received a request for this NSF during the week beginning January 8. The pilot specifically asked for permission to film a small site to the edge of Carrington village and it immediately rang bells again because there have been three other very similar NSF requests in recent months.”