Star act barred

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Truth revealed – festival headliner does cell time.

The no-show headline act at last Saturday’s Peak Festival didn’t have flight problems after all – he was locked up in Queenstown police cells.

Highly-rated British DJ Mark Brown was to fly in from Sydney on Saturday afternoon but the 1800-strong festival crowd was told a flight glitch meant he couldn’t make the gig.

In fact, Brown flew into Queenstown Airport on schedule – only to be detained by New Zealand border control because he didn’t have a work permit.

Police kept Brown in custody overnight before putting him back on a plane to Sydney next day.

Peak Fest manager Samantha Stirling says: “For some unknown reason, he decided it was best to lie and he told Customs he was here on holiday.”

She understands Customs staff recognised him from media promotion for the event – he’d also brought audio equipment with him.

Stirling’s been told Brown offered to solve his problem by suggesting he do the gig for free, donating his fee to charity.

But Immigration wouldn’t buy his sweetener and denied him entry.

A police source says Brown was upset and apologetic that he’d let down promoters and local fans.

The source also thinks Brown should have known better than carry the wrong paperwork after 15 years on the international circuit.

Stirling watched Brown’s plane land during the Events Centre festival – “that’s the worst bit” – and says when alerted by Customs, she was confident she could fix the problem.

What’s disappointing, she maintains, is that Brown had been sent the appropriate paperwork but somehow hadn’t picked it up.

“Even though it made my life a bit of a nightmare, I almost want to congratulate Customs – they did what they were supposed to do.”

She’s critical of Brown for spinning an untruth to border control staff but also admits fudg­­-ing the truth with the crowd.

“After it happened, the MC blamed [Brown’s no-show] on flight delays – if he had explained [the truth], you could imagine the rumours.

“We did nothing wrong – and it wasn’t drugs.”

Whether Brown would be paid his performance fee is yet to be discussed.