TV stations foot £100,000 bill for Blaine police watch

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Television executives have agreed to pay up to £100,000 for the policing of rowdy crowds gathered around the illusionist David Blaine's public fast.

Scotland Yard has increased the number of officers on duty near Tower Bridge, London, from two part-time officers to seven during the weekend.

Violent scuffles and attempts to sabotage the American magician's attempt to live suspended in a Perspex box for 44 days could get out of control, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said yesterday.

Sir John Stevens said: "We have asked the people who have been staging the event to pay for the policing. It is important to say that there has been a considerable expense."

Sky and Channel 4 are televising the event, and both are contributing towards the policing costs. A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "We agreed to pay for the additional policing that the Metropolitan Police recommended that we needed during the weekend and at peak times."

Since Blaine began his planned six-week fast 21 days ago the number of people gathering to watch and torment him has grown. Eggs, golf balls, a lemon and insults have been hurled at him, and some visitors have banged drums to keep him awake at night.

One man was charged with threatening behaviour and criminal damage after allegedly trying to cut the water supply to the box.

Blaine, 30, is attempting to survive inside the box with nothing but a diary, nappies and a supply of water.