'Miss Whiplash' surfaces, safe and well, in sunshine state

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The Independent Online
LINDI St CLAIR, the prostitutes' rights campaigner, appeared to have turned up alive and well in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday after police tracked her down through material removed from her flat, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Sussex police finally came up with the answer to the riddle that has been troubling them for nearly a week just an hour before they were to announce they were closing the pounds 100,000 operation amid growing signs that her disappearance had been an elaborate hoax.

Detectives had become convinced that she had engineered her disappearance after abandoning her Jaguar hire car near Beachy Head, a notorious suicide spot. She was facing a tax demand for pounds 112,000 from the Inland Revenue and was being investigated by Customs and Excise for non-payment of value-added tax on money received from clients.

Shortly beforehand she had written to the Sun threatening to reveal the 'perverted, corrupt and crooked' lives of 252 MPs she claimed had been her clients.

But while the detectives toiled - sifting through the things taken from her home and even interviewing Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of the Sun - it seems that the leader of the Corrective Party was making her way to the sun.

Yesterday officers approached P & O after finding its brochures and asked if the company had anyone on a cruise fitting the description of the unmistakable 'Miss Whiplash'. Even though she had adopted one of the many aliases she uses (which one is not clear) and changed her appearance, the company was able to identify her from information supplied for immigration authorities.

It seems that Ms St Clair, 40, boarded the Canberra, which is on a 90-day world cruise, on Thursday before its departure from Fort Lauderdale next Monday for a three-day trip through the Panama canal. However, she left the ship yesterday morning and by mid-afternoon police had not actually seen her in the flesh . . . .