A British air passenger has been arrested on suspicion of raping a woman in business class on a transatlantic overnight flight.

The alleged victim, also understood to be British, said she was attacked while others slept on the flight from Newark, New Jersey, to London.

She complained to United Airlines staff who called ahead to report her claims to police, according to The Sun.

Officers carried out a forensic examination of the area where the alleged attack took place, a source said.

The man was arrested and taken into custody at Heathrow police station. He was released pending further inquiries.

The two people apparently did not know each other but were seen talking and drinking at the bar in the cabin’s lounge during the flight, the source said.

The Metropolitan Police said: “Officers met the aircraft on arrival and arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of rape. He has been released under investigation.

“The complainant, a 40-year-old woman, is being supported by specialist officers and inquiries are ongoing.”

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