Macmillan grandson sought for fleeing bail

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The Independent Online
TIM McGIRK

New Delhi

The Indian authorities are considering issuing an international warrant for the arrest of Patrick Heath, grandson of the late prime minister Harold Macmillan, who was arrested last year for hashish smuggling and later jumped bail.

Mr Heath, 33, who is also the nephew of the former Tory MP, Lord Emery, was caught by Indian police last June trying to board a flight to Amsterdam with, allegedly, 4.5kg of hashish, worth nearly pounds 100,000, in his baggage. He was remanded in custody at New Delhi's Tihar jail.

Two earlier bail attempts were denied by a district court judge who said that if Mr Heath were released, he might flee India. Both times, Mr Heath pleaded that his wife, Leonora Garret, was unwell and undergoing medical treatment at a private clinic in New Delhi. A third attempt to secure interim bail was successful, after doctors diagnosed that Ms Garret was suffering from "acute psychosis and nervous instability". He was finally released on 10 February after paying a personal bail of pounds 5,000 which was matched by a surety provided by a friend, Hardinder Singh, of Delhi.

Mr Heath fled India soon after he was released. Press reports quoting the Narcotics Control Bureau said he was suspected of escaping from India either by using a forged passport or by slipping across the Nepali border, where controls are less tight.

A British High Commission spokesman said: "All we know is that Heath jumped bail. He came around to the High Commission several times, but after that we don't know what happened to him."

New arrest warrants were issued recently for him and an international warrant is expected soon. An extradition treaty is in force between the Britain and India for drug smugglers. If he is brought back and convicted, he faces 10 years in Tihar, Asia's most overcrowded prison.

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