The long arm of the law: Celebrities behaving badly abroad

More than three decades after he was convicted of a driving offence in Arkansas, Keith Richards is to be pardoned. But many of the other famous names who have found themselves in hot water when on their travels are unlikely to enjoy such forgiveness
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The Independent Online

Keith Richards Arrested for reckless driving, Arkansas

It was more than 30 years ago that the hard-living Keith Richards was arrested for reckless driving as he sped through the state of Arkansas. Now, the state is preparing to offer him a pardon. The question is, does he want to be pardoned?

It was on 5 July 1975 that "Keef", fellow Rolling Stone Ron Wood, a security guard and a fan were driving from Memphis to Dallas, when they stopped at the small Arkansas town of Fordyce for a spot of lunch.

Shortly afterwards, a police officer pulled the vehicle over after he apparently saw it swerve. Richards claimed he was leaning over to tune the radio but the officer detected the unmistakable whiff of marijuana.

Richards was charged with reckless driving and the fan was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Richards pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was fined the sum of $162.50.

But Richards' wild reputation could now be threatened by proposals to grant the 62-year-old a pardon. Earlier this month the state's parole board approved an application for clemency submitted by Governor Mike Huckabee, who plays bass in a band.

The Governor acted he learned that, during a Stones concert in Little Rock earlier this year, Richards asked if anyone in the crowd was from Fordyce, and then said: "I used to know the chief of police there."

A spokeswoman for Mr Huckabee said he had attended the concert, met Richards, and the two had discussed the musician's outstanding criminal record. "The Governor thought it would be a nice goodwill gesture," she said.

Hilary Swank Arrested for importing forbidden fruit, Aukland

Hollywood's leading ladies are renowned for their svelte figures and partiality to fruit as part of a strict diet - but fruit got Hilary Swank into trouble when she arrived in New Zealand in January 2005.

Swank was issued a fine of $163 for failing to declare an apple and an orange that were buried at the bottom of her bag after flying from Los Angeles. She later appealed, saying in a letter to the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry she "simply forgot" about the fruit.

Hardly an original sin, you might think. But New Zealand authorities consider imported produce forbidden fruit, as it can bring unfamiliar organisms into the local environment.

Jessica Davies

Hugh Grant Arrested for lewd conduct, Los Angeles

Not long after gaining a starring role inSense and Sensibility in 1995, the actor Hugh Grant was caught displaying little of either quality with a notorious LA prostitute Divine Brown on Sunset Boulevard. Both were arrested after cops swooped in on the parked car; Grant was fined $1,180 and placed on probation for two years. Better known as a buttoned-up Englishman who specialised in playing upper-class fops, Grant seemed to have momentarily lost his decorum - though not, miraculously, his girlfriend, Liz Hurley. As he explained: "I could accept some of the things that people have explained, 'stress,' 'pressure,' 'loneliness'In the end you have to come clean and say, 'I did something dishonorable, shabby and goatish.'"

Elizabeth Davies

Bjork Fighting, Bangkok

Up until 1996, Iceland's premier pop export had a reputation for a fiery temper - but rarely, if ever, did that volatility cross the line into violence. But, then, upon arriving at Bangkok airport 10 years ago, Bjork well and truly lost her cool. It took just seconds for journalist Julie Kaufman to utter the words "Welcome to Bangkok" and the singer was at her throat, displaying vicious fighting tactics to the amazement - and delight - of the paparazzi around her. The reporter apparently directed the greeting at her 10-year-old son, Sindri, causing Bjork to attack Kaufman with such ferocity that all the journalist could muster to save herself was a few pitiful plonks on the head with her microphone. She claimed later her "motherly instincts" took over and apologised to the reporter.

Paul Bignell

Paul McCartney Arrested for possession of cannabis, Tokyo

As a long-term supporter of cannabis legalisation, it was perhaps not a huge surprise that Japanese customs officials decided to search Paul McCartney's suitcases on arrival at Tokyo's Narita airport in 1980.

They found enough marijuana to land the former Beatles star with seven years in jail. AA frantic campaign by his label and hordes of distraught fans holding a vigil outside his jail convinced Japanese authorities to deport him after just 10 days in jail. "I didn't try to hide [the cannabis]," McCartney told High Times after his release. "I had just come from America, and still had the American attitude that marijuana isn't that bad."

Jerome Taylor

Axl Rose Arrested for attacking a security guard, Stockholm

The lead singer Guns N' Roses and the only original member of a band that once defined hedonistic excess, Axl Rose showed fans he was back to his usual tricks last month after getting himself arrested in Stockholm for allegedly attacking a hotel security guard. His arrest was a dramatic return to the world stage for a man who has led the life of a recluse for the past eight years.

After a 24 hour stint in a cell and a $6,000 (£3,300) fine, the braided American singer was released. No stranger to headline grabbing run-ins with the law, Rose was once charged with inciting a riot in St Louis after grabbing a fan's camera and cancelling a gig. A judge later threw out the charges.

Jerome Taylor

Boy George Arrested for drug possession, New York

When police were called to Boy George's New York flat in October last year to investigate a possible break in, the only person they ended up arresting was the singer himself.

Police handcuffed the former Culture Club frontman, whose real name is George O'Dowd, after finding about 3.5g of cocaine near a computer in his apartment. Under New York's anti-drugs laws the singer could have faced 15 years in prison but escapep with a $1,000 (£541) fine and five days community service after the drug charges were dropped in favour of a guilty plea of wasting police time.

O'Dowd, who divides his time between New York and London, was ordered to pay $1,000 and do five days community service.

"A man who has something to hide does not call police," his lawyer, Lou Freeman, said after his arrest.

Jerome Taylor

Sid Vicious Arrested for murder, New York

While most celebrity run-ins with the law end in grumbling apologies, embarrassing community service sessions and less-than-crippling fines, Sid Vicious's arrest in October 1978 for the murder of his girlfriend in a New York hotel marked a macabre climax to a career that seemed destined to end in tragedy.

Police arrested Vicious after he found the body of Nancy Spungen lying crumpled on the floor of their hotel bathroom. She had died from a single stab wound to the abdomen. A regular heroin user, Vicious said he had no memory of the previous evening.

Four months later, Vicious was released on bail. When asked by a reporter on his release where he'd like to be, the Sex Pistols bassist replied, "under the ground". He was found dead from an overdose the next morning.

Jerome Taylor

Ozzy Osbourne Arrested for urinating in a public place, San Antonio

Of the many celebrity rock stars arrested on foreign soil, few can boast of being caught in the act wearing their wife's clothing. On 19 March 1982, startled officers from the San Antonio police department arrested one Ozzy Osbourne as he drunkenly urinated on the city's Alamo war memorial wearing a flowery summer dress at nine o'clock in the morning.

The rock star's bizarre choice of clothing was part of a desperate attempt by his wife Sharon to stop her husband's chronic alcohol consumption by hiding all his clothes. Undeterred, the Prince of Darkness simply put on his wife's dress as she slept and hit the bars.

Ozzy, who was banned from Texas for ten years, blamed his fashion faux pas on alcohol. "I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober," he was once reported as saying.

Jerome Taylor

George Michael Arrested for engaging in a lewd act, Los Angeles

It was decidedly more than a careless whisper. When George Michael was caught "engaging in a lewd act" by an undercover police officer in a Los Angeles public toilet, it changed the singer's reputation forever. Gone was the squeaky clean teenage girls' pin-up; in was the man on the front page of The Sun under the headline: "Zip me up before you go-go". Michael was fined $810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. He declared: "I feel stupid and reckless and weak for having allowed my sexuality to be exposed this way." Michael's next video featured men dressed up as policemen kissing - all to the words: "Let's go outside/ In the sunshine/ I know you want to, but you can't say yes."