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Body scanners which critics claim invaded personal privacy have been withdrawn by Manchester Airport.

A total of 13 backscatter X-ray machines are being ditched because they have not been given EU approval, even though they are in common use in the United States.

The devices, which use low dose X-rays to produce an image of the body, have come under fire on both privacy and health grounds, amid suggestions they could pose a potential cancer risk.

However despite an expert committee concluding in March that the devices did not pose a health risk, Brussels has refused to sanction their use.

As a result they will be replaced by millimetre-wave devices, such as those used at Heathrow, which have been given EU approval.

These machines enable security staff to detect hidden objects without also requiring them to inspect a ghostly X-ray image of the body.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of MAG, the airport’s parent company, said: “We’re baffled by this situation because health experts say they are safe plus the overwhelming majority of our passengers and security staff prefer body scanners to frisking and it’s frustrating that Brussels has allowed this successful trial to end.”

Meanwhile the Department for Transport has been given approval to replace manual searches of religious headwear, such as turbans, with hand held metal detectors and explosive detecting swabs.

The issue is particularly sensitive at Heathrow, where a substantial proportion of the workforce who are subject to screening are Sikhs.

Following negotiations with the EU, the Government has persuaded Brussels to allow the special arrangements to remain in place.

Tags: security