The convicted paedophile Gary Glitter was forced to continue his life as the world's most unwanted "airport refugee" last night when he was refused entry to Hong Kong.
The former glam rock star, 64, is seeking a new home after he was released from a Vietnamese prison on Tuesday having served time for sexually abusing young girls. He thwarted attempts to deport him to Britain during a stopover in Thailand and, after 20 hours in a Bangkok airport lounge, eventually caught a flight to the Chinese territory.
While on board, he reportedly tried to arrange a VIP welcome in Hong Kong, calling ahead to the airport and saying: "I am quite famous and hard of hearing. Please can you arrange for an escort for me at the other end?"
When asked why he was making the trip, Glitter, who said he had a heart condition while in Bangkok, was quoted as saying: "I am travelling to Hong Kong for medical treatment."
But as Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, desperately tries to avoid returning to the UK, he was disappointed by a lack of welcome when he arrived there at 11pm local time (4pm BST) yesterday with the press pack in tow. In the latest episode of what is becoming a farcical merry-go-round, Chinese immigration officials questioned him for more than two hours and then refused him permission to enter Hong Kong. He was still there last night with no sign of what his next move would be.
"Mr Gadd is currently still here within the airport," said a spokesman for the Hong Kong Immigration Department. "He was interviewed by senior officials after leaving his flight. I am not sure what is happening now."
A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said: "It is a matter for the Chinese authorities to decide what action they take now."
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said Britain could not enforce Glitter's return but must have a plan if he did come back. If and when he arrives in Britain, he will be met at the airport by police officers and served with an order which will put him on the sex offenders register.
On Tuesday, Ms Smith announced tighter controls on the movement of paedophiles but dismissed a suggestion that ministers wanted a "celebrity paedophile" to promote the crackdown and found it "embarrassing" that Glitter had not come home. The plans include increasing the length of foreign travel orders preventing convicted paesex offenders from going abroad, from six months to up to five years.
Glitter was treated for a heart condition while in prison and he spoke about wanting to return to Britain for treatment, despite his apparent reluctance to travel here at the moment.
The former rock star was convicted of downloading child pornography in the UK in 1999 after a computer repair shop found the images on his laptop. He served two months of a four-month sentence.
Glitter left the country and later travelled to south-east Asia, where he escaped detection until he was traced by reporters. He was expelled from Cambodia after facing allegations of sex crimes and moved to the Vietnamese resort of Vung Tau. Two girls, aged 10 and 11, at first made allegations of rape, which carries a death penalty, but were reportedly paid off with £1,175.
Glitter was arrested trying to leave the country and stood trial, pleading not guilty. He was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail in March 2006.
Zoe Hilton, of the NSPCC, said: "This clearly illustrates why it's so important to have binding agreements between countries to prevent sex offenders hopping from one place to another.
Glitter reportedly earns £50,000 a year in overseas royalties from his hits, which include "I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am)". He sold 18 million records and was one of Britain's most lucrative performers in the 1970s. He sold the rights to his back catalogue for an estimated £5m.