Hi-techface recognition gates at a busy airport were suspended after they allowed a man back into the country on his wife's passport.

It is understood an immigration officer double-checking the data on a computer picked up the blunder and the man was stopped before he left Manchester Airport's Terminal One.

The couple are thought to have swapped passports accidentally. The woman could not pass through the gates, which match a face to a digital photo stored on 'chipped' passports.

© Manchester Evening News Syndication
Blunder: High-tech face recognition gates at Manchester Airport were suspended after they allowed a man back into the country on his wife's passport

It was the second recent security problem at the airport. On Sunday, a mistake at the check-in let two strangers board an airliner on one boarding card, resulting in a major security alert and a near three-hour delay for passengers. That has been blamed on human error.

Yesterday the UK Border Agency confirmed that the face recognition gates, used by passengers returning to the UK, were taken out of action for two days earlier this month after the passport incident. Officials say they were reopened after tests confirmed the technology was working correctly.

Brodie Clark, of the border agency, said there was no breach of security or immigration control and that the gates 'are used in conjunction with manual checking by border officials and in this case both individuals were stopped by the immigration officer responsible for supervising the gates'.

He added: 'The gates were temporarily suspended while an investigation was carried out. The investigation concluded that no other sites were affected and the border was not compromised as a result of the incident.

© Press Association
Scene: Manchester Airport where police and airport security staff were called onto the packed jet after cabin-crew realised just seconds before take-off that they had one passenger too many on their aircraft
'The gates have now reopened and we will continue to monitor their performance to ensure they operate safely and securely.'

It is the second blow to hit the technology since its introduction in Manchester in 2008. In December, the independent chief inspector of the border agency questioned the effectiveness of the gates.

John Vine said they could be compromised by 'unreliable technology' after finding they were not working for a 'significant' period of time. But bosses insisted that the facial recognition technology at Manchester Airport was 'among the best performing of all UK ports'.

The gates were rolled out to other UK airports following a trial at Manchester. So far, more than three million passengers have passed through the gates.

© AFP/Getty Images
Terror fear: Passengers were delayed on the tarmac nearly three hours as the Air France Airbus A321 to Paris with 133 passengers on board - due to take off at 7.45pm - remained stuck on the tarmac during the security lapse
In the separate incident on Sunday night an identity mix-up at the check-in allowed the complete strangers to board an Air France plane on a single boarding card.

Police and airport security staff were called on to the packed jet after cabin crew realised seconds before take-off that they had one passenger too many.

Some on the plane said they feared they were at the centre of a terror alert as officers oversaw the unloading of all luggage and in-flight bags for checks.

The Airbus A321 to Paris with 133 passengers - due to take off at 7.45pm - eventually took off at 10.33pm.

Airport bosses launched an investigation, but admit the incident was the result of 'human error'.