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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 22:24 GMT 23:24 UK
Ousted Thai PM arrives in Britain
Ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra arrives in London
Thaksin Shinawatra has business interests in the UK
There is "no significance" in the fact that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is in the UK, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has said.

Mr Shinawatra flew into London's Gatwick Airport from the US less than 24 hours after a military-led coup in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

Mr Shinawatra, who has UK business interests, is expected to be reunited with members of his family in London.

Ms Beckett said Mr Shinawatra had "chosen to come privately to London".

"This is a matter for the people of Thailand," she told BBC News.

It was "not a matter in which the British government is engaged", she added.

Student daughter

The billionaire politician was driven out of Gatwick at about 1830 BST on Wednesday in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes.

Mr Shinawatra, who has a flat in London, has previously been linked with plans to buy a stake in Liverpool Football Club.

One of his daughters, Pintongta, is thought to be a student at the London School of Economics.

Meanwhile, Britons in Thailand are being warned by the Foreign Office to avoid large crowds and demonstrations after the coup.

Martial law has been declared following the coup, which took place on Tuesday while Mr Shinawatra was at the United Nations in New York.

The FO is urging Britons planning trips to Thailand to monitor the situation but has not advised against travel.

News blackout

Those already in Bangkok should avoid moving around the city, it says.

And it warns that movement around government buildings and in public places may be limited.

The streets are very quiet but there is no panic... mostly it is centred around the Sanam Luang and Dusit areas of the city
Barry Osborne

Britons living in Bangkok said it was quiet and calm on the capital's streets on Wednesday as the coup entered its second day.

Wednesday was declared a public holiday, with schools, banks, and the stock exchange closed.

Barry Osborne, general manager of the British Club Bangkok said: "The streets are very quiet but there is no panic, there are some military around the streets of Silom and Sukhumvit but mostly it is centred around the Sanam Luang and Dusit areas of the city."

British Airways said its service to Bangkok was "operating as normal".

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent newspaper, said there were between 10,000 and 30,000 British tourists already in Thailand - about 2,000 of them in Bangkok.

But as many of them were backpackers it was hard to tell exactly how many were in the Thai capital.

He said reports from tourist areas such as Phuket, where most Britons were likely to be staying, indicated that it was "business as usual" with tourists continuing their holidays unperturbed.




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