A four-year-old boy was frisked and had his plastic toy Nerf gun taken off him at an airport by guards who said it was a security risk – even though it only fires sponge darts.
James Hayward had his brightly coloured toy packed into his hand luggage when he arrived at East Midlands Airport with his mum Hazel, 38, and dad Phil, 44, for a holiday to Lanzarote.
The family had been queuing for over an hour and a half on March 31 when they reached the front of the security check line.
But when James's harmless toy was picked up by the security system's x-ray machines, officers demanded he hand it over and gave schoolboy a thorough patting.
The £6 plastic toy was described as a semi-automatic soft dart gun by its manufacturers.
But dad Phil has labelled the security checks 'ludicrous' and said the staff there need to loosen up.
He told his local paper: "Fair enough they are thorough but it just seemed a bit ludicrous to take a plastic gun away from a four-year-old.
"We were so late by this point I didn't have time to stop and argue with them so we just had to leave it because we didn't want to miss our flight.
"I explained to James we would get him a new one when we got back from our holiday. We were going for 10 days in Lanzarote over Easter.
"I thought it was a bit over-zealous of the security staff considering how many people were trying to get through at the time.
"No wonder it was taking so long if they wanted to pat down every little kid."
East Midlands Airport apologised for the inconvenience but pointed out they had offered to post the toy back to the family's home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
Defending the decision a spokeswoman said: "The safety and security of our passengers is our first priority and all regulations on security are set by the government.
"This regulation states that no items may be permitted through security that resemble a prohibited item."
James's parents bought their son a new Nerf from eBay when the family returned from their holidays.