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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 13:47 GMT
Village People imitator gun arrest
Village Boyz - Welsh tribute band to the Village People
Peter Morgan (top left) had a spot of gun trouble
A singer who plays the cowboy in a Village People tribute band spent 24 hours in an Arab jail after his replica pistol sparked a security alert at Dubai airport.

Peter Morgan from Swansea, south Wales, was detained when the alarms went off as his luggage was X-rayed on arrival in the Emirates capital.

Burj al-Arab Hotel, Dubai
Dubai is a popular haven for Western workers

Security officials refused to believe that the weapon was an imitation and locked the Village Boyz singer in a jail at Abu Dhabi overnight.

He was released in time to join the rest of the band in an outdoor New Year's Eve concert in front of 4,000 British ex-pats.

Mr Morgan, who appeared on the TV talent show Popstars last year, described his night in jail as a "horror story".

"There were no toilet facilities and from the time I was put in the cells I wasn't given any food or water," he said.

"None of the guards could speak English - they wouldn't let me speak to anybody from the embassy and I had no contact with anybody from the moment I was put in the cells."

Peter Morgan of the Village Boyz
Peter Morgan appeared on the Popstars TV show
"I just figured I would keep myself calm and just hoped that the embassy would realise that I hadn't arrived at my destination," he added.

The band's manager Jason Phillips, who was briefly detained himself, said he could not believe what happened.

He explained that they always declared their imitation firearms when flying abroad from Heathrow airport, London.

"The week before, we played in Helsinki, Finland, and in Estonia without any hassle," said Mr Phillips, who plays the role of the Native American in the tribute to the 1970s disco legends who had hits with YMCA, In The Navy and Go West.

"But the Dubai authorities wouldn't listen to us.

"They said that since 11 September security had been stepped because of the terrorist threat," he explained.

"In the end they let Peter out on bail an hour before the show - he had to get a taxi from jail straight to the concert."

The Village People
The Village People's YMCA is an all-time disco classic

The band was put up in a five star hotel and were paid 10,000 for the show staged by the Aviation Club of Dubai.

After the gig, the authorities confiscated Mr Morgan's passport and fake weapons until the matter could be resolved.

The rest of the band - construction worker James Clarke, policeman Joseph Salmon, biker Christian Arthur and Mr Phillips - had no choice but to fly home without him.

Mr Morgan was eventually allowed to leave the country on Thursday after British Embassy staff secured the return of his passport.

The former computer repair man briefly shot to fame last year when he was accused of flirting with judge Nicki Chapman on Popstars.

He reached the last 100 of the television show that launched the career of chart topping band Hear'Say.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We would strongly advise against anyone carrying an imitation firearm while travelling abroad - regardless of whether it is for showbiz or otherwise.

"After September 11 security is paramount at airports around the world - regardless of whether you're the cowboy from the Village People," she added.

"This gentleman would've been far better off trying to buy a toy pistol when he arrived in the Middle East."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Peter Morgan
"It was like a horror story from the minute I got in there"
Village Boyz manager Jason Phillips
"We might not have seen him again for years"
See also:

15 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Village People back at the YMCA
26 Dec 01 | Middle East
Dubai hopes to lure weddings
07 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Toy guns may face ban, says minister
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