HE HAS gone from being a revered pop idol to one of Britain's most reviled sex offenders, writes Mark Horne. But Gary Glitter caused widespread alarm in a small corner of rural Scotland without a shred of evidence he had even been there.
A string of 'sightings' of the convicted paedophile along the Moray coastline have been reported recently. So strong were the rumours that officials at the alternative-lifestyle Findhorn Foundation searched their premises to find him.
During the spate of spurious sightings, Glitter – real name Paul Gadd – was 'seen' shopping in Forres, attempting to gain sanctuary at the Findhorn Foundation, and even eating egg and chips at Asda in Elgin.
As the urban myth took hold, Forres' local newspaper was bombarded with calls from residents who feared youngsters were being put at risk by his presence. Journalist Tanya McLaren said: "Everyone was talking about how Gary Glitter had moved into the area, but I couldn't track down a single eyewitness. People were convinced he was here, but it was always a friend of a friend who had seen him."
The most surprising reaction, McLaren said, came from the nearby Shambala Buddhist retreat for "healing and universal compassion". McLaren said: "One of the ladies there claimed she would take Glitter outside and give him a good kicking if he turned up."
Carin Bolles, spokeswoman for the Findhorn Foundation, an eco-village which is home to more than 400 people, was frustrated by the persistence of rumours linking Glitter to the site.
She said: "When we first heard the claims we checked, and there was no one remotely matching his description here. There is a certain amount of bemusement over the rumours, but also an irritation that the Foundation appears to be seen as a soft target for criminals.
"We provide a safe space for people from all over the world and are a law-abiding community."
Grampian Police said there is no evidence to suggest Glitter is, or ever was, in the area.