Travel presenter Richard Quest in a bind over drugs scandalCNN's Richard Quest
April 22, 2008
The future of quirky CNN presenter Richard Quest hangs in the balance today after he was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning in Central Park.
CNN said it had “no comment at this stage” on whether Quest would continue to work for the channel or, if he does remain, whether his programmes – the monthly feature programmes Quest and Business Traveller – would continue to air.
The decorated journalist has won a number of awards for his broadcasts, including Business Travel media personality of the year.
A spokesperson for the New York Police department confirmed that Quest was arrested in Central Park on Friday 18 April at 3.42am. “He was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance, believed to be methamphetamine and for being in Central Park after closing time. He was stopped initially because he was spotted in the park after the curfew,” said the spokesman.
Methamphetamine – also known as crystal meth or ice – is said to “bring on a feeling of exhilaration and produces increased arousal and activity levels”, according to the Frank drugs campaign.
However, the story has been given extra legs by rumours published in an article on Friday in the New York Post, owned by Times Online’s parent company News Corporation, about other items that were found on Quest – a rope tied around his person and a sex toy in the boot of his car.
Contributors to Quest’s Facebook webpage have been largely supportive, with some asking CNN not to sack him.
Quest’s programmes on CNN, sponsored by Egyptian international investment group Artoc, are very popular, and his sacking would constitute a blow to the cable channel.
Liverpool-born Quest, 45, holds a law degree from Leeds University and worked for the BBC’s News 24 channel before joining CNN in 2001.
April 19, 2008
This is CNN? Kinky!
CNN personality Richard Quest was busted in Central Park early yesterday with some drugs in his pocket, a rope around his neck that was tied to his genitals, and a sex toy in his boot, law-enforcement sources said.
Quest, 46, was arrested at around 3:40 a.m. after a cop spotted him and another man inside the park near 64th Street, a police source said.
The criminal complaint against Quest said the park was closed at the time - something Quest should have known because of all the signs saying "Park Closed 1 a.m. to 6 a.m."
Quest was initially busted for loitering, the source said. Aside from the oddly configured rope, the search also turned up a sex toy inside of his boot, and a small bag of methamphetamine in his left jacket pocket.
It wasn't immediately clear what the rope was for.
The criminal complaint says the officer at the scene was able to ID the drug because of "his prior experience as a police officer in drug arrests, observation of packaging which is characteristic of this type of drug, and defendant's statements that . . . 'I've got some meth in my pocket.' "
He was charged with loitering and criminal possession of a controlled substance. His unusual get-up didn't lead to a lewdness charge because he wasn't exposing himself, the police source said.
Quest's unidentified companion was given a summons for not carrying any identification, the source said.
Quest's lawyer, Alan Abramson, had a much more innocuous version of events.
"Mr. Quest didn't realize that the park had a curfew," Abramson said. He was simply "returning to his hotel with friends."
At a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court, Quest agreed to undergo six months of drug counseling in return for an "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," which means the misdemeanor charges against him will be dropped and the case sealed if he stays out of trouble and completes his drug program.
He was released with no bail after spending most of the day behind bars.
Abramson predicted after the hearing that "the case will be dismissed." He declined to answer questions.
Quest, known for his hollering antics and stunts on the cable news network and its international counterpart, declined comment, as did a CNN spokeswoman.
On his official CNN bio, the network calls him "one of the most instantly recognizable members of the CNN team."
"He has become one of the network's highest profile presenters," and his "dynamic and distinctive style has made him a unique figure in the field of business and news broadcasting," the network's Web site says.
He was reportedly once offered a position for the English-language version of the controversial Al Jazeera network, but said he turned it down because being gay and Jewish, he didn't think it would be a good fit.