HEATHROW will be the first British airport to use new body scanners demanded by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the wake of recent terrorist scares.

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In fact, London’s busiest airport already has four of the £100,000 machines – which can see through clothing – but until now the government held off using them over worries about the invasion of privacy.

That concern has now been over-taken by events, specifically the attempted bombing of a US-bound plane on Christmas Day by Umar Abdulmutallab.

One snag is that the type of concealment used by Abdulmutallab – he hid explosives in a syringe – is unlikely to have been picked up even by full body scanners.

Brown’s line is that more protection is better than less.

“You can’t be convinced of the absolute proof of the working at a 100% level of any technology,” said the PM.

“But this will be better than what we’ve got. It will be dealing with a problem people have identified. There is a form of explosive that was not being detected by ordinary machines. We’ve gone further.”

Heathrow’s body scanner squad is set to be up and running within the next fortnight, once staff have been trained on their use.

After Heathrow, the government plans to extend the use of body scanners to all British airports operating international flights.