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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK


Diana Ross freed after arrest

Diana Ross said the police at Heathrow had been "wonderful"

Pop legend Diana Ross is on her way to New York after she was cautioned by police over an alleged assault on a security officer at Heathrow Airport in London.

[ image:  ]
The 55-year-old singer was detained for nearly five hours before she was allowed to go without being charged.

The arrest followed a complaint from a member of the airport's staff that she was assaulted as she attempted a body search on Miss Ross in the security area at Terminal Four.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said police were called by security staff at about 10.30am after a woman security officer complained of an alleged assault.

The BBC's Robert Hall: "Miss Ross was detained for three hours"
He explained: "The incident took place while the woman was waiting together with other passengers for routine security checks prior to boarding a flight."

It is believed she set off a metal detector before boarding a British Airways Concorde flight to New York, and was angered when a guard tried to search her by hand.

The singer is thought to have tried to "frisk" the guard herself before boarding the aircraft.

The BBC's Stephen Cape: "She was cautioned about her behaviour"
She was then escorted off the flight by police, delaying its departure by 30 minutes.

Miss Ross left Heathrow police station at 3.20pm, and eventually caught the 7pm Concorde flight to New York.

Moments before boarding the supersonic airliner, Miss Ross told BBC News 24: "It was scary, I was scared, I'm worried about my children and I want to go home."

[ image: Diana Ross is led away by police on Wednesday morning]
Diana Ross is led away by police on Wednesday morning
Miss Ross said in a statement earlier that her reaction to the search was a "natural instinct" to fight back when humiliated.

"I have been through all the airports of the world and have never been subjected to such an intrusive search.

"I am a huggy person, I don't mind being touched, but not in this way - it was far too personal," she said .

Her publicist, Phil Symes, added: "The whole issue for Miss Ross was the indignity of women when they are subjected to this kind of body search."

He said she had tried to complain to security staff but was angered when she was given a leaflet about complaints procedure.

'Celebrities take offence'

"She felt that was not good enough. She then went back and approached the girl again and said, 'How would you feel in this situation?' and actually touched the girl.

"She told me that women should fight against being subjected to this kind of intimate body search."

An airport spokesman said: "We are required by law to hand search any passenger who activates the metal detector alarms.

"Occasionally high-profile celebrities take offence at this procedure."

Miss Ross had been travelling alone after meeting record executives to plan promotional campaign for her new single, Not Over You Yet.

She shot to fame in the 1960s as part of The Supremes, and has continued to win great acclaim into the 1990s - including a performance in New York's Central Park during torrential rain.

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