Were cops heavy-handed with their takedown of overweight conman Peter Foster? Crook, 57, who masterminded Cherie Blair property scandal was no match for cops who nabbed him over new fraud charges
- Peter Foster, 57, was arrested at Port Douglas in Queensland on Thursday
- The notorious conman is accused of running an online sports betting scam
- Video showed him being crash-tackled by undercover cops disguised as joggers
- Some have questioned the officers heavy-handed approach to the arrest
- The convicted conman was extradited to Sydney from Cairns on Monday
Published: 07:50 EDT, 24 August 2020 | Updated: 13:17 EDT, 24 August 2020
Undercover cops posing as joggers have been under scrutiny for their heavy-handed takedown of notorious conman Peter Foster in a dramatic arrest on an Australian beach.
In an extraordinary video which surfaced today, two plain-clothed officers sprinted up behind an unsuspecting Foster before tackling him to the ground on the Queensland seaside.
The 57-year-old – famous for his role in the Cheriegate scandal which embarrassed the wife of then-British PM Tony Blair in 2002 – was seized while walking his dogs on Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas last Thursday.
One Twitter user commented that the dramatic take-down of Foster, who is in his late 50s, was ‘wholly unnecessary’.
The two plain clothed officers disguised as joggers ran up behind an unsuspecting Peter Foster before crash-tackling him on a Port Douglas beach last Thursday
Private investigator Ken Gamble photographed Foster’s (in blue) takedown after playing a leading role in the latest investigation
‘Again? Why do they keep doggedly dogging Peter Foster? And that tackle was wholly unnecessary!’ she wrote.
Another person remarked that the arrest appeared to have been ‘made for TV’.
‘Anyone find it strange the arrest on the beach of Peter Foster ? If they knew where he was why not there ? Made for TV take down ? (I’m no fan of Foster btw),’ he said.
One woman questioned why police had not simply arrested Foster at his home in Port Douglas rather than on a public beach.
She added that it appeared to have been set up for ‘public entertainment’.
‘Once it was discovered that Peter Foster was living in Port Douglas, why weren’t the local police contacted to simply arrest him at home instead of a commando police squad with a @60mins crew flown up at great expense to make the arrest on camera as public entertainment? #auspol,’ she posted on Twitter.
Today he was extradited from Queensland to New South Wales to face fresh charges over an alleged $1.8million fraud, and escorted straight from the tarmac at Sydney Airport to a police station on Monday night.
After being allowed to return to his house following the arrest on Thursday morning, he changed into a Hawaiian shirt.
When asked by reporters how he was feeling, he said he ‘was annoyed,’ because the arrest ‘wasn’t necessary.’
On Monday the conman was seen peering out the window of a Virgin Australia plane on the Sydney Airport tarmac while wearing the same Hawaiian shirt.
Foster was escorted straight from the tarmac to the back of a police van, before being taken to Mascot Police Station on Monday night
Foster will face court on Tuesday charged with more than a dozen offences including laundering and fraud.
He allegedly used experts to place bets after setting up an Asia-based company called Sport Predictions.
Police will allege the $1.8million invested was diverted to Foster, using the alias Bill Dawson, the bets were never placed and the money was laundered through NSW.
Sports Predictions is allegedly a copy of Foster’s previous multi-million-dollar con, Sports Trading Company, for which he served 12 months behind bars in Australia for trading under a false name.
The Australian Federal Police were seen at Sydney Airport on Monday night, waiting for Foster’s plane to land
Foster, flanked by the AFP, landed at Sydney Airport on Monday night before being taken straight into the back of a police wagon
Notorious conman Peter Foster ‘let out a few screams’ after being crash-tackled by two undercover police officers disguised as joggers in Far North Queensland
The 57-year-old was nabbed while walking along a Port Douglas beach about 8am on Thursday
Foster is notorious for his role in the 2002 Cheriegate scandal in which he helped Cherie Blair to buy two flats in Bristol for their children at a substantial discount.
Foster was dating Carole Caplin, Mrs Blair’s style guru, at the time.
Mrs Blair at first denied his involvement in the deal but was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn days later after the Daily Mail published emails between them where she described him as a ‘star’.
She made a public apology saying she had been unaware of Foster’s criminal background and blaming the pressures of trying to protect her family for the ‘misunderstanding’.
Foster romanced Carole Caplin who was good friends with Cherie Blair, wife of then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The serial scam artist was taken to his home following the Thursday morning arrest. He changed into a Hawaiian shirt and emerged in handcuffs
Private investigator Ken Gamble photographed Foster’s takedown after playing a leading role in the latest investigation.
Mr Gamble – of IFW Global, which investigates internet fraud worldwide – tracked Foster after being approached by a businessman who believed he had been the victim of an elaborate fraud.
The private detective kept the fraudster under surveillance for a month before tipping off the police about his alleged betting scam and his whereabouts.
They took over the surveillance and made the dramatic early morning arrest.
Through his relationship with Ms Caplin (left) to Foster got Ms Blair (right) involved in ‘Cheriegate’, one of the most embarrassing episodes in recent British politics, when he arranged for her to buy two flats in Bristol at a discount
Foster was spotted driving a $400,000 Bentley through the streets of the Gold Coast in March
How Peter Foster embarrassed the Blairs in Cheriegate scandal
In 2002, Cherie Blair – the wife of then-British PM Tony Blair – came under unwanted scrutiny after buying two cut-price flats with the help of Peter Foster.
Foster – who was already a convicted conman – was dating Mrs Blair’s confidante and ‘fitness guru’ Carole Caplin at the time and went with his girlfriend to help Mrs Blair buy the two flats in Bristol.
He was said to have boasted that he used the Blair name to secure a £69,000 discount, but later backtracked and said it was merely the ‘art of negotiation’.
Mrs Blair said she had wanted to buy the flats after their son Euan started at university in the city.
The Blairs in 1997, the year that Tony Blair came to power after a landslide general election victory
Downing Street initially denied that Foster was involved, but was caught out when the Daily Mail published emails between Mrs Blair and the Australian conman in which Cherie described Foster as a ‘star’.
The PM’s wife was forced into a public apology, saying she did not know Foster had been in prison and that Caplin had assured her he was a ‘reformed character’.
Acknowledging that Foster had been involved in the deal, Mrs Blair said the Australian ‘started to offer what seemed like helpful advice, which at the time I saw no reason to reject’.
Describing the initial denial as a ‘misunderstanding’, Mrs Blair said she had acted out of a mother’s instinct’ to protect her family’s privacy.
Foster also claimed he had sought advice from Mrs Blair, a barrister, about separate deportation proceedings against him.
But Mrs Blair insisted that she ’emphatically did not try to influence this one way or another’ and Foster’s own solicitors said she had not given any advice or assistance.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PETER FOSTER
As a teenager in the late 1970s, Foster began promoting nightclubs and boxing matches on the Gold Coast. But he was declared bankrupt in the early 80s after trying to sell tickets for a Muhammad Ali fight in Australia that never came off. He was also fined $A100,000 in Britain for trying to claim insurance for a cancelled fight.
Undeterred, Foster hooked up with a number of high-profile British girlfriends who he used to promote his ‘slimming’ Bai Lin Tea. He fled Britain and fraudulently re-marketed the product as Chow Low Tea in the US where he was caught and forced to serve four months in jail. He was also jailed in the UK when he returned in 1995.
Foster sparked two weeks of turmoil for British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 when he became a financial adviser to Blair’s wife Cherie. He and girlfriend Carole Caplin, a confidante to Mrs Blair, helped as ‘middle men’ in the purchase of two flats in Bristol.
Chased by local police in 2006 for forging documents about his criminal history, Foster strips down to his underpants and dives from a bridge into a river but hits his head on a boat and is captured. He then goes on a hunger strike, preventing hospital staff from handing him over to police because he’s too weak. While on bail, escapes to Vanuatu on a boat.
Foster is declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in January 2018 after refusing to pay court costs relating to SensaSlim, a scam weight loss company. He was jailed in 2014 for contempt of court over SensaSlim, before which he had spent around a year in hiding in a bush property near Byron Bay..
Foster arrives six hours late to his sentencing at a Sydney court in October 2018 after being sentenced for possessing a fake Irish passport in order to get an offshore betting license for a sports trading company. His lawyer told the court his client’s delay was down to food poisoning.
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