Cruise ship brawl not caused by ‘clown,’ police say, despite earlier report

P&O's cruise liner Britannia is shown in this file photo. AP Photo

Perhaps Batman should start monitoring the high seas for jokers with unverifiable stories.

Officials are disputing a report that a man in a clown costume was responsible for a chaotic restaurant brawl on a British cruise ship early Friday, in an incident that resulted in two arrests and at least six injuries. U.K. police say there is no evidence to support a viral Twitter thread that blamed a “clown” for the incident over the weekend.

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The melee broke out after a long day of partying onboard the cruise ship Britannia, according to ITV reporter Richard Gaisford, who was on the boat at the time. Gaisford heard the commotion and rushed to the scene to interview people after it happened, he said on Twitter.

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“Witnesses told me they were so frightened they had to hide, as family groups fought,” Gaisford tweeted on Saturday.

A witness told Gaisford that the fight erupted because a passenger crashed a black-tie party in a clown costume. Gaisford says the outfit upset the witnesses’ friend because “they’d specifically booked a cruise with no fancy dress [code]. It led to a violent confrontation.”

“Fancy dress” is a form of dress code for parties in the U.K., much like black tie. Fancy dress often involves themed costumes.

P&O Cruises, which operates the Britannia, banned fancy dress and novelty clothing from its cruises at the beginning of 2018.

The cruiseline has confirmed that the brawl occurred, but not that a clown was involved.

“Following an incident on board Britannia on Thursday evening we can confirm that all guests disembarked yesterday and the matter is now in the hands of the local police,” a spokesperson for P&O Cruises told The Guardian on Sunday.

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Hampshire police arrested a man, 43, and a woman, 41, in connection with the incident. Both were released on Sunday but remain under investigation, according to police.

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“There is no information to suggest that a clown or anyone wearing fancy dress was involved in this incident,” police told The Guardian.

Gaisford has not shared any further evidence to corroborate his claim of a clown on board. An ITV News story published on Sunday does not mention the clown at all.

Several people have asked P&O to clear up the rumours of a clown on its Facebook page.

“Come on P&O, when are you going to announce your own version of events on the Britannia brawl?” one woman posted on Monday.

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“This was a rare and isolated incident and we do not tolerate disruptive behaviour,” the company wrote in a response. “It is currently under police investigation.”

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