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Mon, Dec 22, 2008

Clown Strip-Searched By BIA Airport Security

Plastic Handcuffs Confiscated By Authorities

Birmingham International Airport security guards strip-searched a man dressed as a clown after the entertainer set off security alarms.

Wearing a baggy bright blue constable's uniform, huge shoes, and a policeman's helmet -- complete with a flashing blue light on top -- PC Konk the Clown was ordered to strip to his tee-shirt and shorts.

PC Konk -- aka Dave Vaughan, 60 -- has been a children's entertainer for 25 years. "I just couldn't believe it when they told me to get undressed so they could search me and my belongings," he said. "I showed them my police clown identity card, which had my picture next to my credentials as a member of the Criminal Insane Department, but I don't think that really helped!

"My plastic scissors and camera got through fine, as did my funny glasses and bubble machine, but then they discovered my plastic toy handcuffs. I told them I had bought them from the Early Learning Centre especially for the trip but they still said they were a risk."

It turns out a metal band designed to keep his trousers up had set off the alarm, and PC Konk was allowed to board the plane. But security guards decided to hang onto the plastic handcuffs.

Vaughan said, "I suppose they have to be really safety-conscious nowadays, but I've never had this problem before when I've been to international clown conventions abroad."

Vaughan was booked by Variety Club Midlands to entertain disadvantaged children with his funny songs and jokes on the Search for Santa trip, a one-hour flight, UK's Daily Mail reported.

"It's ridiculous that they needed to strip search PC Konk right down to his shorts," Variety Club Midlands spokesman David Dunckly said. "He told us that he normally uses pink fluffy handcuffs, but they have a little bit of metal in, so he thought plastic ones would be safer.

"PC Konk has always been great with the kids, and we were all rather shocked when we found out he had been strip searched in a private room. Thankfully, he was let through in the end, but it's security gone mad," Dunckly said.

A Birmingham International Airport spokesman said, "PC Konk certainly did a great job of keeping everyone at the airport entertained; however, he was required to give in his handcuffs at security in line with national security regulations.

"PC Konk then passed speedily through before getting on with the important job of putting smiles on the faces of the Variety Club children, who all enjoyed a day to remember."

And Vaughan got his plastic handcuffs back after the flight, too.

FMI: www.bhx.co.uk, www.varietyclubmidlands.org

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