Music teacher, 33, faces jail for using bogus Covid test certificate

Music teacher, 33, is warned he could face jail for using bogus Covid test certificate in bid to fly from Heathrow to Egypt

  • Philip Cunningham was stopped at Heathrow Airport by EgyptAir staff on May 4
  • His coronavirus test number was lacking a digit, Ealing Magistrates Court heard
  • Cunningham admitted fraud by false representation in one of first cases of kind 

A music teacher who tried to get on a flight to Egypt from Heathrow with a bogus Covid-19 test certificate has been warned he could face jail. 

Philip Cunningham, 33, was stopped at the London airport on May 4 after EgyptAir check-in desk staff spotted his coronavirus test number was lacking a digit.

Police were called to Heathrow to question the man, from Birmingham, but he maintained he had tested negative the day before, Ealing Magistrates Court heard.

Philip Cunningham, 33, was stopped at the London airport on May 4 after EgyptAir check-in desk staff spotted his coronavirus test number was lacking a digit. Pictured: Departures at Heathrow earlier this month

Officers who contacted the testing company were told there was no record of Cunningham taking a test. 

The defendant was arrested and taken in for questioning at Heathrow Airport Police Station.  

Prosecutor Izola Gribbin said: ‘He told police officers: ‘Yes I did it, I sent them on a wild goose chase. I’m a music teacher, this could ruin my life.’

District Judge Chris Hack said: ‘This is a serious matter and this is a matter which requires an all-options report. 

‘The court will consider all options including committal for sentence to a higher court.’ 

Police were called to Heathrow to question the man, from Birmingham, but he maintained he had tested negative the day before, Ealing Magistrates Court heard. Pictured: Stock image

What are the rules for Britons entering Egypt? 

Under current rules, those entering Egypt are required to present a negative PCR test on arrival and an indication of when this test was taken.

The Egyptian government has advised that PCR tests must be conducted no more than 72 hours prior to flight departure.

However, those arriving from London Heathrow are permitted to have their test conducted 96 hours before boarding their flight. 

Cunningham appeared at court wearing a beaded necklace, a newsboy cap, and multi-coloured trainers, speaking only to confirm his name and address.

The defendant, of Station Road, Birmingham, admitted fraud by false representation.

He was released on unconditional bail to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on June 4.

The judge warned Cunningham he could still be committed to the Crown Court for sentencing if magistrates decide their powers are too limited.

The teacher is understood to be one of the first Britons to be convicted of using a fake Covid test certificate to try to board a flight. 

Under current rules, those entering Egypt are required to present a negative PCR test on arrival and an indication of when this test was taken.

The Egyptian government has advised that PCR tests must be conducted no more than 72 hours prior to flight departure.

However, those arriving from London Heathrow are permitted to have their test conducted 96 hours before boarding their flight. 

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