Gary Glitter gives tabloids the slip
Disgraced British glam rocker Gary Glitter flew to Hong Kong yesterday, airline officials said, after Thai police barred him from entry following his release from three years' prison in Vietnam for child sex abuse.
The 64-year-old Briton, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was allowed to board a Thai Airways flight even though immigration police at Bangkok airport said he would be deported to London "as soon as possible".
Having been booted out of communist Vietnam on Tuesday at the end of his sentence, police said Mr Glitter feigned ear and heart problems in Bangkok to miss a connecting flight to London, apparently fearful of a hostile reception in Britain.
However, there was no sign of Mr Glitter several hours after his arrival in Hong Kong. The city's airport arrivals gate was shut after midnight, with the last of the day's passengers, including those from Bangkok, believed to have passed through.
Hong Kong's Immigration department would not clarify Mr Glitter's whereabouts or whether he was being detained, only giving its standard response that it "will not comment on individual cases."
The former British colony is extremely unlikely to allow him entry, given his conviction in Vietnam, a prior conviction in the UK on child pornography charges, and the extra sensitivity of Chinese authorities during the Olympics.
Mr Glitter was allowed to wander freely in the no-man's land of Bangkok airport for nearly 24 hours despite being officially declared persona non grata in Thailand.
Police said health checks had revealed his assertions of having heart and ear conditions had been bogus.
A Thai immigration official confirmed Mr Glitter had left Bangkok, even though two hours earlier authorities had said he was on a one-way ticket to London.
"We are barring entry to Paul Francis Gadd and will be deporting him to his home country, England, unconditionally and even if he does not wish to board the plane," they said in a statement. "We are now waiting to return him to England as soon as possible."
Mr Glitter landed at Bangkok airport sporting a long white goatee beard and with his face partially hidden by a faded denim baseball cap and a battered pair of spectacles.
After holing up for more than 12 hours in a transit lounge rest area, he disappeared through a fire-door into the bowels of the airport escorted by a dozen immigration and airport officials.
He smiled at reporters tailing him but declined to say anything, other than that he was "fine".