Page last updated at 07:34 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 08:34 UK

'Heart attack' halts Glitter trip


Gary Glitter walking through Bangkok airport terminal

Former pop star Gary Glitter has refused to board a flight to the UK, saying he was having a heart attack.

He was earlier deported from Vietnam after spending almost three years in jail for sexually abusing two girls.

Glitter, 64, real name Paul Francis Gadd, had arrived at Bangkok in Thailand, where he was to change planes and fly back to the UK.

But he refused to leave the airport, demanding to be allowed to stay in Thailand or another Asian country.

Thai immigration has declared Glitter "persona non grata" and threatened to return him to Vietnam.

Refused entry

Glitter sold millions of records as a glam rock star in the 1970s, with hits including I'm the Leader of the Gang.

He had been met at Bangkok airport by immigration officials to ensure he caught his connecting flight.

But the BBC's Jonathan Head said the British policeman accompanying Glitter had been unable to persuade him to board the plane to the UK.

Our correspondent said Glitter could theoretically travel to another country, but was unlikely to find one that would accept him given all the negative publicity he had received.

He said police were trying to persuade the disgraced star, who is believed to be in an airport hotel room, that he has no choice but to return to Britain.

If he continues to refuse to leave then he will be confined in the [transit] area temporarily before being taken into a detention centre
Lt Gen Chatchawal Suksomchit
Thailand immigration police

Glitter has been refused entry to Thailand, despite a plea for medical treatment there. He failed to board a second London-bound flight departing on Wednesday morning.

Lt Gen Chatchawal Suksomchit, the chief of Thailand's immigration police, told the Associated Press news agency that Glitter was confined to the transit area at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

"Officials concerned are working through the process of putting him on the plane to take him out of the country, but if he continues to refuse to leave then he will be confined in the [transit] area temporarily before being taken into a detention centre," he said.

If Glitter does return to the UK, he will be met at the airport by police and required to sign the sex offenders register.

He will then be subject to monitoring and will have to tell the police where he plans to live and if he plans to go abroad. He could also face an order prohibiting him from going near children or using the internet.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said on Tuesday it was her view that he should be given a Foreign Travel Order (FTO) banning him from overseas travel.

Passports taken

Ms Smith has also announced plans to tighten controls on the movements of paedophiles.

Proposed measures include increasing the length of time an FTO can apply from six months to up to five years and automatically confiscating the passport of anyone subject to an order.

At present, police are only allowed to rely on evidence from the previous six months about the risk an individual poses, but that time period would also be extended under the plans.

"I think these are sensible and proportional ways of toughening up what is already a very tough system. I think that's what we owe to children in this country and to children abroad," Ms Smith said.

The home secretary's announcement came after children's charity Ecpat UK accused the government of "turning a blind eye" to British sex tourists.

Jacqui Smith on tightening restrictions for child sex offenders

The charity said it was too easy for nationals convicted abroad to stay under the radar of British police upon their return.

Christine Beddoe, from Ecpat, told the BBC the new proposals were welcome, but must address existing problems around the enforcement of FTOs.

There are currently only five travel bans in place for sex offenders, compared to some 3,000 for known football hooligans.

"At the moment the Foreign Travel Orders that we have in place are not being used very much - the police say they're a bit unwieldy, there's too much administration," she said.

"It's all very well and good saying they've got to be tougher, but if police don't like using them at the moment then let's make that work much better."

Ms Beddoe said the plans appeared to be "reactionary" and needed to include much more than just restrictions on offenders' movements.

"The other call that we're making is to have stronger bilateral co-operation measures with other countries for joint investigations.

"To share our information more easily, more speedily, with foreign countries is actually, really, what's going to make the difference."

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