Bernie Ecclestone (pictured with his wife Fabiana Flosi in 2017) was held by police in Brazil last night after an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun was found in his luggage at Viracopus International Airport
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Formula One magnate Bernie Ecclestone, 91, says miniature gun found in his luggage was ‘only ever used to play jokes on people’ and ended up there by accident when he ‘larked around’ with it – after his arrest at Brazilian airport

  • Bernie Ecclestone, 91, was arrested at Brazilian airport for carrying a small gun 
  • Speaking exclusively to Mail Online, he insisted the gun was packed accidentally
  • He said he had been ‘larking around with it’ and tucked it away in a shirt pocket
  • After last night’s arrest, he paid 6,000 Real in bail to leave aboard a private jet

Bernie Ecclestone has spoken for the first time since his arrest for possessing a gun at an airport and described how the firearm had been packed my mistake after he had been ‘larking around’ with it. 

The billionaire former Formula One supremo was held by police in Brazil last night after an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun was found in his luggage at Viracopus International Airport.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline this evening, Ecclestone, 91, said the tiny revolver had been packed by mistake after he had been walking around his house with it, jumping out on people.

He had tucked it into a pocket of his shirt, which was then put into his bag. The firearm was discovered as the luggage went through X-ray screening.

He stumped up 6,000 Real in bail – about a £1000 – and was later freed to travel aboard a private jet to Cascais in Portugal, where he is staying briefly before flying on to Switzerland next week.

Bernie Ecclestone (pictured with his wife Fabiana Flosi in 2017) was held by police in Brazil last night after an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun was found in his luggage at Viracopus International Airport

Bernie Ecclestone (pictured with his wife Fabiana Flosi in 2017) was held by police in Brazil last night after an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun was found in his luggage at Viracopus International Airport

The miniature gun was tucked inside Ecclestone's shirt pocket, he said, after he had been 'larking around with it'. The shirt was later packed in a bag with the gun still inside

The miniature gun was tucked inside Ecclestone’s shirt pocket, he said, after he had been ‘larking around with it’. The shirt was later packed in a bag with the gun still inside

The crime of illegal possession of a weapon in Brazil carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison, but Ecclestone was released due to his background and factors including the ‘notable personal status of the defendant’s fortune’ and the nature of the offense.

He said he bought the gun after his mother-in-law, Aparecida Schunck, 67, was abducted from her Sao Paulo home in July 2016. She was found by police a few days later and released unharmed.

Ecclestone told MailOnline: ‘I’d bought the gun from a friend about five years ago. He told me: “You’ve been living in Brazil for quite some time now and it’s a bloody dangerous country. Pull this out and frighten someone if they try anything.”

‘My mother-in-law was kidnapped a year or so before, so I was perhaps a little more vigilant.

‘But to be honest, it’s such a small gun it wouldn’t do any damage to anyone who wanted to do me any harm or kidnap me. It’s the sort of gun a woman would keep in her handbag.

‘I’ve only ever used it to play jokes on people and that is what I was doing with it a few days ago, walking around the house with it, jumping out on people and larking around.

Ecclestone told MailOnline: 'I'd bought the gun from a friend about five years ago. He told me: "You've been living in Brazil for quite some time now and it's a bloody dangerous country. Pull this out and frighten someone if they try anything."

 Ecclestone told MailOnline: ‘I’d bought the gun from a friend about five years ago. He told me: “You’ve been living in Brazil for quite some time now and it’s a bloody dangerous country. Pull this out and frighten someone if they try anything.”

‘I tucked the gun away in my shirt pocket and forgot about it. Somehow that shirt got packed up and was in my luggage without me realising it.

‘We got to the airport about 8pm yesterday and as we were going through the security about an an hour or so later, the scanner picked the gun up and I was pulled aside.

‘The gun wasn’t loaded. There’s never been any bullets bought for it. It was just to put people off if they were posing a threat.

‘I was told that I needed a licence for such a firearm and I don’t have one.

‘The security and police were very, very understanding. They knew there was no threat and it was an honest mix-up.

‘I wasn’t put in handcuffs or anything like that, I was just taken into a private office and asked to make a statement and fill out a load of forms, which I did.

‘The police told me they would have to report the matter and that in order for me to continue my onward journey I’d need to pay for bail, which came to about 6000 Real, which is no more than £1000.

Ecclestone is understood to have been detained at Viracopos Airport (pictured) in Brazil last night after they seized the miniature gun from his luggage

Ecclestone is understood to have been detained at Viracopos Airport (pictured) in Brazil last night after they seized the miniature gun from his luggage

‘I’ve not been charged with any crime yet but the officer said they’d be in touch with me to let me know if I do need to attend a police station or go to court in the future.’

Ecclestone had been travelling with wife, Fabiana Flosi, and their 21-month-old son Ace, as well as members of their household staff.

He added: ‘I tried to get them a hotel for the night but I wasn’t able to.

‘We had to stay at the airport until 5am this morning when the airport opened again and we could fly out first thing.

‘It was one of those silly things to happen but it at least shows that the airport security is working.’

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