A drug baron could have to appear in custody outside Sussex because prison officials fear he would try to escape from the county’s courtrooms.

Christopher Quaddy was the mastermind behind a £2 million plot to smuggle cocaine into Brighton Marina.

He was jailed for 30 years amid tight security at Hove Crown Court in March 2007.

Quaddy is serving his time at Long Lartin high-security prison in Leicestershire, one of the five most secure jails in Britain.

A financial investigation is underway to track down the money he made from drugs.

He is believed to have significant assets hidden in foreign banks accounts.

A confiscation hearing to decide how much came from the proceeds of crime will be held on November 2.

But Judge Anthony Niblett, who sentenced Quaddy, was told yesterday(fri) that the Prison Service is reluctant to let him attend.

There are concerns that the cells and docks at the four main crown courts in Sussex may not satisfy the strict criteria set down by the Prison Service.

As a result the hearing could have to take place either inside Long Lartin or at a high security court in London such as the Old Bailey or at Belmarsh prison which has its own courtroom.

Quaddy will have to serve at least 17 years before he is even considered for release.

Judge Niblett said he was satisfied that Quaddy, from Ascot, Berkshire, was “at the very top” of an international drugs ring.

Quaddy was so arrogant he drove one cocaine shipment across Europe himself for two yacht skippers to sail it across the Channel to Brighton Marina.

Undercover officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency arrested the skippers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and other members of the gang at the marina in June 2005.

The skippers turned Queen’s Evidence against Quaddy in return for lighter sentences.

They have since been given new identities and deported to undisclosed countries.

Judge Niblett said at yesterday's hearing: “I cannot imagine any circumstances where they will be called to give evidence in court.

“They may be able to do so by video link but I would imagine the defence will not be provided with their whereabouts or we may not see them at all.”

Penelope Small, prosecuting, said: “We are aware that as a result of information obtained by the Prison Service there are security issues.

“I am aware from what happened on previous occasions that the Prison Service does not want this man brought from any prison to court.”

She said further investigation was needed into how and where the hearing should take place so that it does not breach Quaddy's right under the Human Rights Act to attend.