Paul O'Grady: I swallowed cannabis at Thai airport to avoid arrest

The chat show host swallowed the drug when his partner realised he had some in his pocket

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Paul O’Grady has revealed how he swallowed a stash of cannabis at Bangkok airport to avoid being arrested by Thai police.

Recalling the incident, which took place in 1992, Mr O’Grady said he washed the drug down with a can of Coke and accordingly got on the plane “blissfully out of [his] mind”, enjoying a “euphoric” flight to Australia, where he was touring as Lily Savage. 

The admissions, reported by the Daily Mirror, are from Mr O’Grady’s new memoir Open the Cage, Murphy.

Mr O’Grady, 60, details how his long-term partner and manager Brendan Murphy realised he had a “lump of dope” in his pocket as they approached customs, while taking a pit-stop as the plane refuelled.

He writes: “’You bloody fool,’ I said [to Murphy], as I saw to my horror two armed guards walking towards us. There was no sign of a bin and the guards were getting closer. There was only one thing for it.”

He wrote how he decided on the course of action, fearful of Thailand’s strict anti-drug laws and penalties.

Mr Murphy died in 2005 from a brain tumour.

In the book, the Merseyside native indicates that he supports a change in the law when it comes to cannabis, disclosing that he would buy and smoke the drug with his friend Chrissie, who had Aids during a time when he said illness was highly stigmatised.

“I’d buy some dope and we’d proceed to get heavily stoned,” he writes, explaining that it would give his friend the “munchies”.

“It was good to see Chrissie eating properly for a change and if that meant breaking the law it was about time the law changed.”

O’Grady suffered a heart attack in 2001, which he says signalled the end of his partying days.

“I grew up overnight. It really did shake me and I’ve toed the line ever since,” he says.