LONDON (Reuters) - Gary Glitter, a British singer who spent three years in a Vietnamese jail for child sex abuse, returned to London on Friday after failing to find sanctuary in Asia.
Glitter, famous in the 1970s and 80s for songs such as “Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again” and “I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am),” arrived at Heathrow airport after an overnight flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok.
He was met by police and escorted away under the flashing bulbs of a pack of paparazzi photographers.
At a court hearing outside London hours after his arrival his lawyer failed in a bid to prevent him having to sign the sex offenders’ register, a list of convicted pedophiles kept by the police. His lawyer David Corker said the ruling could be appealed.
“He tells me that his trial in Vietnam - a country which has been condemned by virtually every organization concerned with justice and human rights as being a system of unfair justice and political trials - was a charade, was a travesty of justice,” Corker told reporters.
“He never got a fair trial and in due course that will be expanded upon.”
Glitter, 64, was released from jail in Vietnam on Tuesday after serving almost all his three-year sentence. He was then flown to Bangkok for a connecting flight to London, but failed to board the flight saying he had ear and heart problems.
He wandered Bangkok airport for nearly 24 hours despite being declared persona non grata in Thailand. He then flew to Hong Kong but was rejected by Chinese authorities. After returning to Bangkok, he was put on the flight to London.
British media have speculated the singer, whose real name is Paul Gadd, tried to avoid returning for fear of the negative reception he would receive. Since his release, Glitter’s every move has been tracked by British tabloid photographers.
Snapshots have shown a pale, drawn figure sporting a long white goatee beard, his face partially hidden by a baseball cap, and a chequered scarf loosely drawn around his neck.
Despite his once-huge fame in Britain, where he had more than 25 hit singles, Glitter fell completely from favor after he was convicted there in 1999 of downloading thousands of images of child pornography onto his personal computer.
He later left the country and moved to Cambodia, staying for several years before being blacklisted, again on sex allegations. He moved to Vietnam, where he was arrested in 2005 and charged with the sexual abuse of two young girls.
He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in March 2006.
While Glitter has served time for his crimes, Britain’s media have not let up in criticism.
Before his return, the tabloid Sun newspaper told how the “pervert pop star” was coming back and the Mirror printed a headline saying “Warning: This vile man lands back in Britain today” next to a picture of a grinning Glitter.
Reporting by Luke Baker and Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Michael Winfrey and Angus MacSwan