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Heiress Was Originally Charged with Lewd Behaviour on Plane

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter dominiczak

PROSECUTORS have defended themselves after a jury took only 45 minutes to clear a socialite of being drunk on a plane.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had been right to take Guinness heiress Clare Irby, 30, to court despite her being cleared on a legal technicality.

It has now been revealed that an alleged oversight by the CPS meant that the charge of drunkenness related only to her time in British airspace -- the last 20 minutes of the 10-hour flight from India.

But it has also emerged that Ms Irby was originally charged by police at Heathrow with lewd behaviour, which she has always denied.

She had been accused of letting another passenger, Daniel Melia, 36, grope her breasts as his girlfriend slept in the next seat on the flight from Bangalore last year. Ms Irby and Mr Melia were eventually charged with one count of being drunk on an aeroplane. A CPS spokesman said: "The charge was not changed because of jurisdictional issues. …