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Fugitive Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir returns to UK

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Media captionAsil Nadir: "I'm here, I've come voluntarily"

Fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir has flown back to the UK, after evading trial since 1993.

Mr Nadir, 69, left his home in northern Cyprus to face fraud charges relating to the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire in 1990.

He told the BBC he had fled Britain after battling "with immense injustice and tremendous abuse of power".

He has driven to London and will appear at the Old Bailey on 3 September. A bail surety of £250,000 has been paid.

The businessman arrived at Luton Airport at 1323 BST on Thursday, where he was met by immigration officials.

Accompanied by his wife, Nur, he was surrounded by photographers when he left the plane, before being driven from the airport in a grey Jaguar and with a police escort.

He was taken to a property in Mayfair, central London, where a family reunion was expected to take place. Two of his sons and his sister live in the UK.

Arriving, he said: "I'm delighted to be here. It's been a long time and I've missed the country."

Electronic tag

Mr Nadir's trial is not expected to take place until 2012 because of the complexity of the allegations. He will have to wear an electronic tag until it ends.

His lawyer, Giles Bark-Jones, said they would launch an abuse of process argument, arguing there could not be a fair trial.

Who is Asil Nadir?

Asil Nadir in Turkey in 1997
Asil Nadir started out working for his father's clothing business in the UK in the 1960s, returning to northern Cyprus to take over the running of a formerly Greek-owned factory following the Turkish invasion in 1974.
The floor of the London Stock Exchange in 1990
The Turkish Cypriot was the darling of the stock market in the 1980s because of the extraordinary growth in the value of his Polly Peck business empire, which he turned into a FTSE 100 component by 1989.
A Russell Hobbs kettle
Through a string of takeovers, Polly Peck went from being a small textile firm, to being a huge company, owning electrical brands such as Russell Hobbs and becoming a big seller of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Asil Nadir after being released on bail in 1990
Polly Peck collapsed in 1990 amid allegations, strenuously denied, that Mr Nadir had taken so much money out that it was unable to function. The Serious Fraud Office investigated and he was due to stand trial in 1993.
Michael Mates MP in 2004
The affair was embarrassing for the government. Mr Nadir had been a major donor to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party and the Northern Ireland Minister Michael Mates resigned over his links to Mr Nadir.
Asil Nadir at his home in North Cyprus
Just before his trial, Mr Nadir escaped in a private jet and travelled to northern Cyprus, which has no extradition arrangements with the UK. After 17 years, he has now returned to Britain to fight the charges.
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BBC legal affairs analyst Clive Coleman said one of the most common grounds for this argument was that the time delay had been too long. The counter-argument would be that this only occurred because Mr Nadir absconded.

Speaking from Turkey before flying to the UK, Mr Nadir told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he believed the legal "environment" was right for him to return.

"I'm hoping to get a fair trial, if this matter goes to trial, obviously," he said.

He claimed he had already "proved my innocence to the authorities without doubt but nobody took any notice at that time".

Earlier this year, Mr Nadir let it be known that he was prepared to return to the UK on condition that he was granted bail while his case was heard, rather than being held in custody.

His bail conditions also include surrendering his passport, reporting to a police station once a week, and being prohibited from going near any airport.

Mr Nadir was charged with fraud and 66 counts of theft when he was chief executive of Polly Peck, a business empire he built from scratch which traded in products as diverse as groceries and electronics.

'Life of luxury'

It was alleged that he secretly transferred £34m out of the company, leading to its collapse.

Just before he was due to stand trial in 1993, he fled to live in his native Cyprus.

The Times' crime editor, Sean O'Neill, has been with Mr Nadir in northern Cyprus.

He said: "I must say the most surprising thing for me is, he lives a life of comparative luxury here in Cyprus… yet he burns with a desire to return to the UK to clear his name."

Mr O'Neill said he found it striking that it was this feeling alone that was compelling Mr Nadir to leave his beach-front home and return.

The UK does not have an extradition agreement with northern Cyprus, because it does not have diplomatic relations with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey.

In a legal twist, it emerged during a bail hearing in July this year that Mr Nadir was never, legally speaking, on the run.

In 1992 he had pleaded not guilty to the SFO's allegations but was allowed to leave the court without a judge deciding whether he should be bailed or remanded.

When Mr Nadir fled in 1993, a judge issued an arrest warrant for breach of bail.

However, the Old Bailey ruled that Mr Nadir had not breached his bail because it had never been granted in the first place.

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