Peter Foster arrested in Fiji over 'gay smear' allegations

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The Independent Online

The colourful tale of Peter Foster has taken a suitably bizarre twist, with the missing fraudster re-emerging clad only in a pair of swimming trunks.

The notoriously charming Australian - who was once dubbed "the greatest conman of all time" and who was at the centre of the Cheriegate scandal four years ago - was captured by police in Fiji after evading them for more than a fortnight.

Local media in the South Pacific islands said the 44-year-old was detained in the Pearl Resort at Navua after he tried to escape by jumping off a bridge. Pictures on television showed a distressed Foster, dressed only in his trunks and with a gash on his head, being taken by stretcher to a hospital in the capital, Suva.

Mr Foster, who has served jail terms for fraud and impersonation, came to prominence in 2002 when he began a relationship with Carole Caplin, Cherie Blair's style and health adviser and offered himself as a "financial adviser" to the Prime Minister's wife over the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

He went missing in Fiji recently, amid claims he was involved in an attempt to smear plans for a hotel development. Police issued an arrest warrant and raided his rented villa on the island of Viti Levu while immigration officials said they wanted to question him over his tourist visa.

It is claimed that Foster and four local businessmen created websites, internet chat rooms and e-mails that suggested a planned New Zealand-backed development in the Yasawa islands was being marketed for homosexuals, with Fijian boys available for sex.

The developers were also said to have derided the local people as "simple and stupid".

The aim of the campaign, it was alleged, was to persuade the Fijian government to stop the development and back a different one linked to Mr Foster.