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EDITIONS
Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 15:12 GMT
Is fear the price of fame?
David and Victoria Beckham
The Beckhams have had two alleged kidnap threats
As the Victoria Beckham kidnap plot collapses, News Online asks do celebrities have to live in fear of being targeted by criminals?

Celebrity guru Max Clifford says the risk of becoming a victim of crime comes almost as a by-product of fame for today's celebrities, who are constantly placed in the public eye by today's fame-obsessed media.

He told Sky News: "If you've got stars that are worth millions and millions and millions, then of course you can see the potential for criminals.

"Hence the need for increased security, for increased awareness."

The Professional Footballers Association said security was becoming an increasing concern as the sport's biggest names enjoy superstar status.

Because of the security aspect, they're going to have to be more cocooned

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
"Everybody has to be extremely security conscious," said PFA chief Gordon Taylor.

"It's happened in other areas and I think with the state of the world today, security is going to have to be given a very high priority, unfortunately.

"There was a time when footballers and sportsmen would be criticised for not being more involved with the general public, but unfortunately because of the security aspect, they're going to have to be more cocooned.

Death threats

"There's a great interaction between players and supporters, but unfortunately, there will be a minority who abuse that."

Anecdotal evidence would certainly appear to bear out the theory that headline-hitting wealth attracts the interest of criminals.

Ali G at the MTV music awards
Even Sacha Baron Cohen - Ali G - has received a death threat
A spate of burglaries of high-profile, wealthy people in recent years became known as the Hello! burglaries because they so often seemed to follow an appearance in that celebrity magazine.

Pierce Brosnan, the Beckhams, Elton John, the late Beatle George Harrison and even Ali G, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, have all received death threats.

The Beckhams have just received their second alleged kidnap threat in as many years - and they have also had to put up with stalkers.

But the rich and famous are fighting back by taking ever-increasing security measures.

24-hour guards

Several UK insurance companies now offer specific policies against kidnap and ransom (known as K&R in the trade), in a business worth tens of millions of pounds each year.

Firms offer seminars and training in how to deal with kidnap and ransom threats.

Many high-profile celebrities - including the Beckhams and Victoria's former Spice Girls colleague Geri Halliwell - have taken 24-hour security guards.

Both David and Victoria can be seen around Manchester almost all the time with as little security as possible

Counter-kidnap specialist Andrew Irlam

But many of them are reluctant to let security fears interfere with their running of a normal life.

Counter-kidnap specialist Andrew Irlam, who is chief operations director of a Manchester company specialising in "close, personal and executive protection", said the Beckhams were such a couple.

"Both David and Victoria can be seen around Manchester almost all the time with as little security as possible," he said.

However, he added that just because their security appeared to be light, that was not necessarily the case.

"The security team responsible for the Beckhams, and indeed much of Manchester United, is very, very professional indeed," he said.

"Although the security is quite definitely there, it is not always obvious."

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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