Beckhams step up security, kidnap plot is foiled


British police were today questioning nine people in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap Victoria Beckham, the former Spice Girl pop star and wife of Manchester United footballer David Beckham.

Seven men and two women were arrested yesterday and today in connection with a plot to kidnap the singer, reportedly with a view to demanding a £5 million (€7.8 million) ransom for her and possibly her two toddler children.

No charges have yet been brought against any of the nine, who are being held in police stations across central London.

David Beckham issued a statement today, in which he thanked police for their handling of the case and said his family would be reviewing its security arrangements.

His employers Manchester United meanwhile said they were confident that security arrangements for their staff were "adequate".

Police arrested the alleged kidnap plotters after a tip-off from the News of the Worldnewspaper, whose reporters had infiltrated a gang of Albanians and Romanians, originally to uncover an alleged art theft.

"It's terrifying to think that someone would want to do that to you and your children," Victoria Beckham told the paper, published today.

"I'm in absolute and total shock. It's clear these people were serious and that, of course, has scared the life out of me," she added.

Following the information from the News of the World, a special kidnap unit yesterday conducted an armed operation in the Docklands area of east London, where three men were arrested for alleged offences of theft and conspiracy to kidnap, police said.

A further four men and two women were later arrested at separate addresses in south London.

Staff from a security firm were today seen taking equipment into the Beckhams' lavish Hertfordshire home, northwest of London.

The couple was spending the day at its Cheshire home, near to Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.

According to News of the World, "Posh Spice" was to be sedated with a chemical spray, taken to a safe house in Brixton, south London, and held until ransom money was transferred to the kidnappers' overseas accounts.

One kidnapper was reported as saying that it would be better if the couple's children - two-month old Romeo and his three-year-old brother Brooklyn - were present in order to extract a higher ransom. It was also reported that Victoria would be killed unless money was handed over.