Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gary Glitter's return prompts tighter sex offender laws

Richard Ford, Jack Malvern and Andrew Drummond in Bangkok
Child sex offenders are to face tighter travel restrictions after it emerged that existing laws would not curb Gary Glitter's movements after he returns to Britain.

The measures to be announced by the Home Office today come as the 1970s glam-rock star heads for London after serving a 33-month sentence in Vietnam for molesting two girls.

Glitter, 64, was released yesterday and deported. He flew to Thailand but managed to avoid boarding his planned flight to Britain last night, complaining of fatigue and dizziness. He rented one of the small rooms at Bangkok airport that are available for passengers who want to rest and declared: 'I'm not going back to London. You can't make me. I've done my time. I'm a free man.'

The singer, who was told that he would be arrested if he tried to enter Thailand and whose requests to fly to Singapore or Hong Kong were denied, was travelling on a passport issued by the British consulate in Ho Chi Minh City last November. He has the same rights as any British citizen to travel to any country that does not require a visa.

Under the Home Office's proposed measures, child sex offenders would have to renew their passport annually and new rules would make it easier for police to seek an order restricting an offender's movements. The ministry also wants to extend the length of time ' currently six months ' that child sex offenders can be barred from travelling abroad.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said: 'I want to see anyone who poses a threat to our children dealt with as firmly as possible. I've spoken to child protection experts and the police and they have told me that these changes will further restrict the ability of child sex offenders to harm children both here and overseas.'

She said that it was her view that with his criminal record, Glitter, who, in his heyday, earned ?800,000 a year, should not be travelling anywhere in the world.

The proposals came after the disclosure that police were powerless to impose a sexual offences prevention order on Glitter on his return to Britain. At present police require recent evidence that a person is at risk of re-offending. In future there will be no timescale on the evidence.

Registered sex offenders will also have to give more than the present seven days' notice of their intention to travel abroad, making it easier for police to seek an order to ban them from going overseas and for their passports to be confiscated. The measures require legislation, so they will not be in place when Glitter returns.

The singer was driven from jail to Ho Chi Minh City airport via the British consulate and put on a flight to Bangkok. As he boarded his lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh, said: 'Everything is OK. He is happy to be going home. He was in a good mood.'

On his arrival in Bangkok Glitter was met by Thai immigration police. He said: 'I am not getting back on the plane with all the press there and I'm not going to the first-class lounge to be hassled by them. And I'm not going to London. I've done my time. I'm a free man.'

British Embassy officials were called in. Thai immigration officials declined to force Glitter back on the plane and the British police officer escorting him admitted that he had no jurisdiction to make him board the aircraft. As the officials pondered the situation, flight TG901 pulled away from the gate with Glitter still at the airport.

The singer, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was due to be met by police at Heathrow and told that he was being placed on the sex offenders' register. He will join 30,000 people on the register and will be required to give police his name, date of birth, home address and national insurance number. He will be kept under the highest level of surveillance and be visited weekly by police and probation staff. If he breaks the terms of his registration he could face a prison sentence of up to five years.

Off the air

' Gary Glitter is thought to receive up to ?50,000 a year from royalties and performance fees

' Glitter was enjoying a revival until he was charged in 1997 and had expected to appear in a Spice Girls film

' He used to earn about ?100,000 a year from the National Football League in America, which played his Rock and Roll parts one and two after touchdowns. They dropped the songs after his conviction


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