Lord Ramsay Dalgety, secretary of Tonga's Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, was arrested in Nuku'alofa yesterday after leaving the royal commission of inquiry into the sinking of the Princess Ashika ferry, in which at least 74 people died.
The Matangi Tonga newspaper reported there was "a bit of verbal exchange" between Lord Dalgety, the police who arrested him, his co-commissioner at the Tonga Electricity Commission, Kafu Afeaki, and his lawyer, Stanley Afeaki.
The police arrested Lord Dalgety, 64, and read out the warrant of arrest as he left the Fa'onelua convention centre where the inquiry is being held.
Deputy Police Commander Taniela Faletau told the newspaper he did not want to make any comment on the arrest or confirm the nature of any charges. The police would make a statement on Monday.
Lord Dalgety moved to Tonga from Scotland in 1991 and was made a law lord in 2008 by King George Tupou V.
At his initial January 22 appearance before the inquiry, he admitted that the Princess Ashika was an old rust bucket, but denied revising a memorandum of agreement for purchasing the vessel.
"I'm not going to be the fall guy for signing this contract or agreeing to it," Lord Dalgety, a specialist in admiralty law in Scotland, told the inquiry.
He then did not return to the commission, claiming he was ill.
But yesterday, a doctor at the local hospital said Lord Dalgety had been suffering only dehydration when admitted and should have no problem giving evidence.