Glitter refuses to board UK flight after 'heart attack'

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The Independent Online

Shamed rock star Gary Glitter remains in limbo today after refusing to board a flight to the UK following his release from a Vietnamese prison.

In bizarre scenes after landing in Bangkok, Glitter refused to board a connecting flight to Heathrow and demanded to fly to Singapore after Thai officials refused to let him through passport control and into the country.

Glitter further demanded to be allowed to stay in Thailand or another Asian country in order to recieve medical treatment for what he claimed to be a heart attack. He was then taken to the VIP area after complaining of fatigue.

The Foreign Office said Glitter declined to board the flight from Thailand to England and remained in transit in the VIP area, where travellers can rent small bedrooms airside at Bangkok airport.

Police and senior immigration officials in Thailand said Glitter had been denied entry into the country after failing to board the flight to London.

Police Major General Phongdej Chaiprawat said Glitter was being confined to a transit lounge at the airport in Bangkok. The general added that it was the responsibility of Thai Airways, the carrier on which Glitter was flying, to fly him out of the country.

Lieutenant General Chatchawal Suksomchit, the chief of Thailand's immigration police, said Glitter was denied entry because under Thai immigration laws those convicted of child sex abuse in a foreign country can be barred.

"Officials concerned are working through the process of putting him on the plane to take him out of the country, but if he continues to refuse to leave then he will confined in the (airport transit) area temporarily before being taken into a detention centre," he said.



The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said today that Britain could not enforce Glitter's return but had to plan for what would happen if he did come here.

She repeated that his was the type of case where it was "pretty hard to imagine it would be legitimate for him to travel abroad again".

She will announce measures today to curtail movement around the world by convicted sex offenders.

She said in a GMTV interview: "I don't want any sex offenders in this country, but the point is, Vietnamese officials have deported him to the UK, so, as we do whenever sex offenders return to this country, we need to plan ... for what happens when people return."

She added: "Never mind his individual case, anybody who is returning to the UK in these sorts of circumstances would be met at the airport by police officers, would be served with an order which effectively puts them on to the sex offenders register."

Ms Smith said the system for dealing with sex offenders in this country is already very strong, but she plans to strengthen it.

There are plans to issue more foreign travel orders, stopping sex offenders travelling abroad by having their passport taken off them.

"One of the things we have learned generally about sex offenders is they do want to travel to places where they can exploit children."

Not everybody on the sex offenders register would have their passport taken away.

"If there is evidence the person is travelling abroad to abuse children, we can get an order that stops them travelling. There should be more of those."

Asked if Glitter was that sort of case, she said: "In every single case, the court has to make the decision, but this is the type of case where I find it pretty hard to imagine it is legitimate for him to travel abroad again."

Asked if she was comfortable with him using the NHS and taking up police time, she said: "I think it's right that we use police time to monitor sex offenders.

"If you are a British citizen, you have the right to use the NHS, whatever we think about an individual, and this is a pretty despicable person."





The 64-year-old, real name Paul Gadd, reportedly argued with Thai immigration officers, insisting he was a "free man", while British embassy officials tried to convince him to board the flight home and a British police officer who was supposed to be accompanying him home looked on.

Glitter then complained of fatigue and was taken to the VIP area.

It is not known when or where Glitter intends to travel to next, but it is unlikely he will remain in Thailand for any length of time after being told he would not be allowed out of Bangkok airport unless it was on an international flight.

Glitter left Vietnam at around 9pm yesterday local time (3pm British time). He arrived in Bangkok after a 90-minute Thai Airways flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

He was released from prison yesterday morning British time after serving two years and nine months of a three-year sentence for abusing two girls aged 10 and 11.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The last information we have is that shortly before the flight to the UK departed he declined to board.

"We were last aware that he remained in transit.

"He decides where he applies to go and the country or authorities there will decide whether they permit him to enter their territory."

Glitter was originally due to arrive at Heathrow this morning, where he would have been met by police and ordered to sign the sex offenders' register.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said yesterday she did not want him to be able to travel abroad again.

And children's charities have criticised his stated intention of returning to the UK to take advantage of the NHS.

He suffered from health problems while in prison and was treated for a heart condition and tinnitus. He has said he wants to return to the UK for treatment.



Glitter was convicted of downloading child pornography in the UK in 1999 and served two months of a four-month sentence after a computer repair shop found the images on his laptop.

He left the country and moved to Spain and Cuba before travelling to south east Asia where he escaped detection until he was tracked down by newspaper reporters.

He was kicked out of Cambodia after facing allegations of sex crimes and moved to the Vietnamese coastal resort of Vung Tau.

The two girls at first made allegations of rape, which carries a death sentence, but were reportedly paid off with £1,175.

He was arrested trying to leave the country and stood trial, pleading innocence and claiming he was teaching the girls English. He was convicted and sentenced to three years in March 2006.

Glitter reportedly earns tens of thousands of pounds in overseas royalties from his hits, which include I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am).

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