Police began a risk assessment yesterday after Gary Glitter claimed that he feared being attacked. Officers stressed yesterday that the former glam rocker and convicted paedophile, released last week after nearly three years in a Vietnamese jail for sexual assaults on young girls, would receive no special treatment.
A police spokesman said: "He is not being treated any differently to any other person in these circumstances." The response follows claims that protecting Glitter would be hugely expensive; estimates have varied wildly from £50,000 to £250,000 for a round-the-clock defence from vigilante attacks. He has not so far been put up in a police safe house, a move which is reserved for cases where the danger is proven.
Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, went into hiding yesterday after a media scrum at Heathrow on his return to Britain. Only a handful of officers are thought to have been told of his location, although the 64-year-old is thought to have headed to Cornwall.
The 1970s pop star appeared desperate to keep a low profile yesterday. But last night his legal team suggested that his disappearance will not last for long, and months of court action could be in the pipeline. Glitter has recruited David Corker – the lawyer who represented Michael Barrymore – to help him prevent his name being added to the sex offenders register indefinitely.
Glitter spent seven years on the register after being convicted of storing child pornography on his computer in 1999. He was given a four-month jail sentence.
He claimed yesterday, through his lawyer, that his conviction in Vietnam for abusing two girls, aged 10 and 11, was a "charade" and a show trial during which he didn't get the chance to defend himself. "He never got a fair trial and in due course that will be expanded upon," said Mr Corker. Further legal appeals could be triggered if the government tries to stop him leaving the country. While he has handed his passport to the police by agreement, it has not been confiscated and in theory Glitter could still leave the country – regardless of Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith's wish that he is "controlled in the UK".
Legal experts warned yesterday that Ms Smith would need to take radical steps to stop him travelling overseas, and risked getting tangled up in a legal test case. Philip Barth, immigration solicitor for City firm Penningtons, said: "Glitter's case raises the issue of whether we as citizens have a legal entitlement to a passport. That [taking it away] is really under the royal prerogative."
The former singer resisted returning to the UK for three days, shuttling between Vietnam, Hong Kong and Thailand before flying to the UK on Friday, apparently keen to leave again as soon as possible.
He has extensive knowledge of Cuba, where a former girlfriend says her seven-year-old son, Gary Junior, is Glitter's child. Yudenia Sosa Martinez told the Daily Mail in Havana: "I heard he was out but I haven't heard from him and I don't expect to. When he lived with me, he was a lovely man. But I have moved on."
Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation union Napo, said that, ultimately, there was little that the police could do to protect him: "Here we have someone in the public eye and, in terms of a new identity, you can't really give him one. I would have thought that the police will conclude that the measures they have to put in place will be minimal."
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