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253Grammy-winning British conductor arrested at U.S. airport

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  • John Neal
    Aug 20, 2010

      He was flying into New York to appear in front of his many fans at a Mozart festival.

      But when British conductor Paul Hillier arrived at the airport, the police were waiting for him instead.

      And rather than relaxing in preparation for his performance at the renowned Lincoln Centre in New York, the 61-year-old Grammy winner was taken to jail.

      Mr Hillier, who was awarded the OBE in 2006 for his services to choral music, was held on an outstanding warrant for failing to pay child support for his two daughters, who live in the U.S. with his ex-wife.

      And he had to arrange to pay £58,000 to his children by first wife Lena-Liis Kiesel to gain his freedom, it is said.

      Prosecutors claim Mr Hillier, who is from Dorchester, Dorset, had been ducking payments to his daughters, 24 and 19, for four years. He faced four criminal charges of failing to make the court-ordered payments.

      And last night Mr Hillier told how he was detained by officials of the Department of Homeland Security at Newark Airport and taken to Essex County Jail in New Jersey.

      'I have to say that I was treated by them with great courtesy and understanding,' he said.

      He had withheld the payments after his former wife prevented their daughters from visiting him. 'My rights as a father have been comprehensively trampled into the ground', he added in a statement.

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