Deported sex offender Michael Andrew Bell was arrested on the tarmac of Heathrow Airport on the suspicion of a historic rape.

Bell, 39, was deported on July 29 after being paroled, following his jail term for two counts of sexual violation in Dunedin in 2011.

He was accompanied by three New Zealand police officers to London's Heathrow Airport on the same day, arriving on July 30 (UK time).

The Otago Daily Times understands officers of the Metropolitan Police Service entered the plane and arrested Bell once the other passengers had disembarked. He was arrested on behalf of the Devon and Cornwall police.

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A spokesman for the Devon and Cornwall police confirmed the arrest.

"A 39-year-old man from Exeter was arrested on July 30 on suspicion of rape," police said.

"He has been bailed pending further inquiries until November 5."

Police could not comment further on the details of the offending because of the investigation.

It is understood the arrest related to a historic allegation dating from more than a decade ago, before Bell emigrated to New Zealand.

Bell served his sentence in Otago Corrections Facility before being released this year, as the Parole Board felt he was no longer an "undue risk" to the community and as he was the subject of a deportation order.

Bell was jailed in November 2012 after a complaint by a 19-year-old woman following an incident on September 13, 2011.

He denied the offending but a jury in Invercargill found him guilty at the end of a two-day District Court trial in September that year.

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His jail term of three years and nine months was to finish in June 2016.