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Noye's tangled web of corruption

g and compass

The Independent
Noye's tangled web of corruption
By Kim Sengupta and Paul Lashmar
14 April 2000

KENNETH Noye believed there was a price for everyone and he bought police officers and public officials to provide him with the protection he needed to mask his criminal activities.

Detectives untangling his network of corruption now believe that at least one prominent MP was in his pay.

Such was the apprehension and nervousness created by the extent of Noye's corruption of the police that during the investigation into Stephen Cameron's murder officers were given around-the-clock protection from their colleagues. Others changed their telephone numbers. The Noye file on the case was restricted to less than a dozen senior officers.

With his lower-middle class background, Noye did not come from a traditional gangster family and he did not have the pathological hatred some felt for the police. From early in his criminal career he was prepared to do deals with officers, offering bribes and information on fellow villains.

Noye's big opportunity to fraternise with corrupt officers came when he was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1977 for receiving stolen goods.

The underworld was becoming wary of Noye. John 'Little Legs' Lloyd, a well known east London gangster, was warned about him by south London villains, others received similar messages.

In the late 70s Noye joined the Hammersmith Freeemasons' Lodge in west London. He was proposed and seconded by two police officers. He eventually rose to be the master of the lodge with the support of the membership of which the police made up a sizeable proportion. Other masons included dealers in gold and other precious metals. A little while later Noye was being helped out of an arrest by a detective who was a fellow mason.

One of Noye's police contacts was prepared to intervene on his behalf not just with fellow officers, but other law agencies. The detective approached a Customs officer investigating Noye in the early 80s and pressurised him to " lay off". The Customs man, at first surprised and then angry, warned that if the conversation went any further, he would have to officially report it.

When customs had arrested Noye, he was quick to offer information on fellow criminals engaged in cannabis smuggling. He also claimed that guns with major firepower were being imported into the country and offered to get a crate of Uzi sub machine guns. Customs passed the information on to the police but they refused to get involved on the curious grounds that they did not believe British criminals had access to automatic weapons.

But the police themselves were increasingly worried about Noye's connections. The Independent has seen documents which shows that Noye " has an association with an MP by the name of S---. They have been seen at Windsor Works ( a business owned by Noye) and it is alleged they have a business association."

The informer who providing the information, said the document, " further states that a Metropolitan Police officer was a frequent visitor to the Windsor Works and Noye took him abroad to the Continent."

The extent of police concern about Noye's connections was apparent when he became a prime suspect for the laundering of 26 million in bullion from the Brinks Mat robbery. While carrying out surveillance of Noye's home, an undercover officer, DC John Fordham, was stabbed to death by Noye.

Mr Fordham's partner, DC Neil Murphy, who was was present at the killing, told The Independent " There was enormous worry about leaks right from the start. I remember before the briefings took place the room was electronically swept for bugs - this, mind, a room in a top security police station. The name of a senior officer kept cropping up as someone being close to Noye.

"The other thing that stands out in my mind is how little we knew about Noye. This man was obviously a top level launderer, yet he had managed avoid much scrutiny. "

Noye was acquitted of DC Fordham's murder after pleading self-defence. But his contacts could not save him a 14 year sentence at a subsequent trial for laundering the bullion.

While in prison, Noye kept in touch with his police contacts and this paid off for his comeback in the crime business. While still a prisoner at a " halfway house", he became involved in a 50,000 deal to import cocaine from the US involving the Miami mafia.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency received intelligence about the plot, but a sting operation failed when Noye suddenly pulled out of the deal. He had been warned off by a corrupt detective on the National Crime Intelligence Service, John Donald, who had been corrupted by an associate of Noye's, Micky Lawson.

Donald eventually went to prison. Commander Roy Clark, one of his senior officers, said: " Donald was more than corrupt, he committed acts of treachery beyond belief. He sold operational secrets to those involved in organised crime and put the lives of police officers at risk."

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