Gary Glitter was due back in Britain today after finally boarding a flight to London, bringing to an end a three-day fiasco in which the convicted paedophile repeatedly tried to avoid deportation from Thailand.
The former rock star's decision to return was reported by Thai officials, who had twice refused him entry to their country, and the Foreign Office later confirmed he had boarded the flight.
Police General Phongdej Chaiprawat said Glitter, 64, whose real name is Paul Gadd, had reluctantly agreed to fly home after being told no other country would take him. He is due to arrive at Heathrow Airport shortly after 7am, ending the farcical merry-go-round which accompanied Glitter's release from a Vietnamese prison on Tuesday.
Since then he has spent his time in Asian airports, desperately trying to avoid being sent back to Britain, where he will be greeted by a media circus and have to sign the sex offenders register.
Zoe Hilton, a policy adviser at the NSPCC, said: "This clearly illustrates why it's so important to have binding agreements between countries which will prevent sex offenders hopping from one place to another and possibly going underground, where they will pose a serious threat to children.
"Offenders like Glitter can and should be chaperoned while being deported back to the UK, where they can be properly monitored. It is disappointing this latest development was not anticipated and proper arrangements put in place to make this work.
"This case is important because it highlights how easy it is for UK offenders to move around freely when they are overseas – even those who pose a high risk to children."
Glitter's release had at first appeared relatively straightforward. After being freed from Thu Duc jail, he was driven to Ho Chi Minh City airport, with his lawyer saying the singer intended to return to the UK immediately.
Glitter even told reporters he was looking forward to returning to England to see his family again after spending nearly three years in prison for abusing two Vietnamese girls aged 10 and 11. But when he arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday he refused to board a connecting flight to Heathrow, complaining of chest pains and earache. Instead he tried to enter Thailand, saying he needed hospital treatment.
After being told he would not be allowed into the country, Glitter, still refusing to board his scheduled flight to London, booked into a hotel room in the airport's transit lounge, where he was examined by a doctor.
Thai officials, who had no official documents giving them powers to deport him, had no choice but to allow Glitter to stay. On Wednesday, he told them that if he could not enter Thailand he would travel to Singapore or Hong Kong. Singapore, however, also barred his entry and so he settled on Hong Kong.
On board the plane, Glitter phoned ahead to try to arrange an escort for when he arrived. He is also said to have called a friend to come and meet him at the airport. But Thai police were making phone calls of their own, warning Hong Kong that he was on his way.
He was arrested when he arrived and questioned for two hours before being sent back to Thailand. When he returns to Britain, Glitter will be met by police officers who will ensure that he signs the sex offenders register.Reuse content