RIP Bertie Smalls

The first “supergrass” Bertie Smalls has passed away. I’d never heard of him until I opened The Guardian this morning. This would not normally be worth a comment, except Smalls died of natural causes aged 72. And let’s not underestimate this achievement given what he did and when.

Smalls “shopped” 28 of his bank robbing mates in the ’70s. As he left the witness box his former colleagues sang, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.” One of these colleagues spent many hours in jail teaching his budgie to say, “Bertie Smalls is a fucking grass.”

Smalls did go into hiding and was given a new identity. But he turned down the opportunity to leave the country and never had plastic surgery. He was even spotted in his old North London haunts and was once beaten up in a South London carpark. But he still managed to live into his own ’70s.

As Hugh Muir’s Diary points out though, Bertie’s “shopping achievement” pales in comparison with Michael Michael. I’d never heard of him either. Michael shopped 34 other people and helped smash 26 drug networks. But impressively (according to reports in 2001) he “sold out his mother, wife, brother and lover in an attempt to receive the most lenient sentence possible.” Diary doesn’t say if he was successful. But somewhere, I’ll bet there is a whole flock of budgies that can say, “Michael Michael is a fucking grass.”

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  1. frank

    grassing up is traditional down south –never catch anyone grassing up anyone here in Yorkshire –unless brass is right

  2. dean smith

    that’s because no one gives a toss what happens in yorkshire as it’s a back-water …

  3. aidders

    “Super-Grasses”, is a chapter from the new book; A Madness Shared by Two that’s about the life of the Eriksson twins and the murder of Glenn Hollinshead; – based on a critque examination of the BBC documentary; Madness in the Fast Lane. The author claims the sisters were likely involved in a drug smuggling ring, and that a ‘deal’ may have been made with the police. The book exposes a police cover-up, and say this is probably due to the reason the twins were under “obbo”, – police observation at the time of the M6 incident. It further exposes the edited-out 27sec [see here] of film footage from the original docementary, that proves the twins were first arrested under the 1983 Mental Health Act, millions have questioned; ‘Why was Sabina released after only 5hrs from this act of madnesss on the motorway?’ The Hollinshead family never knew of this film footage, and now are seeking legal action. In another first, it also reveals that the coroner’s report indicates two weapons were used, and that Sabina could be totally innocent of his murder/manslaughter, and that the real killer/s could still be on the loose!

    http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Author-says-Glenn-Hollinshead-s-killer-loose/story-17512401-detail/story.html?dwrMeth=addComment&afterReg=Y

    “Supergrass” is a slang term for an informer who “grasses” on other members of the gang. One of the first police “grasses” to receive the ‘Supergrass’ nickname, was Bertie Smalls, real name Derek Creighton [1935-2008], born in the East End of London. I once see him in a night club in Tottenham, called Elton’s. He had a kind of Bob Hoskins look and sound about him, a short, squat man, who loved to emphasis his Cockney accent. Throughout history there’s been ‘grasses’, the police were able to jail the Kray twins on the evidence given by gang member Leslie Payne. One of Britain’s most active armed robbers, Bertie “Smalls” was arrested in 1973. Yet despite being involved in many violent crimes in London and the south-east area, he negotiated himself a deal with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelhorn, whereby he would go “QE”, which means to give Queen’s Evidence, in trials of his fellow-robbers in exchange for complete an utter immunity. [1a] Although Smalls was generally described as Britain’s first supergrass, the former Flying Squad ‘governor’ from Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read, always maintained it was Leslie Payne, adviser to the Kray twins, who gave evidence against them in 1969, who should have had the title.[1a]

    In October 1967, Reggie Kray is alleged to have been encouraged by Ronnie to kill Jack “the Hat” McVitie, an associate of the Kray gang who had failed to fulfil a contract, which was to kill Leslie Payne. Ronald Kray gave a gun and £100 to McVitie with instructions to murder Payne and the promise of a further £400 [2a] [some say it was more; £1,500[3a]] when the ‘job’ had taken place. McVitie was lured to a basement flat in Evering Road, Hackney, and not far from where I was born and lived, on the pretence of a party. As he entered, Reggie Kray pointed a handgun at his head and pulled the trigger twice, but the gun failed to discharge. Ronnie then held McVitie in a bear-hug, whilst Reggie was handed a carving knife, and stabbed McVitie in the face and stomach, then driving the knife deep into his neck, whilst twisting the blade. [2a][4a]

    As we know, according to the pathology report into Glenn Hollinshead’s death, there were four stab wounds and no defence marks. If he too was held like that of McVitie, though obviously not in bear-hug from the front, but someone held Glenn’s arms from behind, this would account for the lack of defence wounds.

    It seemed that “Smalls” had set a precedent, as many of his former ‘associates’ soon followed suit once the taboo of ‘grassing on your mates’ had been broken, and went; “QE”. Whereas a few of them were given such favourable deals by the police and Crown, getting only five years, as opposed to the 18 or more years they could have normally expected.[1a] In 1972, Sir Robert Mark became Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. In that year alone the annual total of armed robberies in the London district was 380, partly because the culture was rife with bribe-taking, sharing in the proceeds of crime and “Verballing-up”, which means the police would say the “suspect” had confessed or said something they never did, or fabricating evidence against them. [5a] Sir Robert Mark felt compelled to remind his detectives which side of the law they were supposed to be on, he told them in his inaugural address: “A good police force is one that catches more criminals than it employs.” It could be argued this wasn’t an exception and took place around the country and in other forces, though perhaps not on such as a grand scale. [5a]

    Take Gary Padgett,[1] who exposed a gang in 2003, and who Stephen Kelsall, then aged 36, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, was part of, after Padgett’s mate and drug-dealer, Philip Smith, was shot dead near Bradford in 2002. Padgett now needs 24/7 police protection, just like those people who are part of the ‘Witness Protection Programme’, they are given new identities if they so wish, and place’s to move to. However, not all ‘Supergrasses’ are exposed as being so. Many inform on other people to get a ‘lesser sentence’, and it’s done in such a way, the persons they have informed on, have no idea they have been ‘grassed-on’. They might have an inclination they have been, though it’s so cleverly done, you’re always in doubt. The police will make it appear you were caught simply as being part of the ‘obbo’, and that’s how it works. Probably Britain’s most prolific modern day Supergrass was Michael Michael, whose evidence led to 34 people being jailed for 170 years, and the dismantling of 26 different drug gangs. Information about Michael’s work as an informer, were kept secret until December 2001, when a judge at Woolwich Crown Court sentenced him to six years in jail. Reporting restrictions that had been in place for three years were lifted.[2]

    Michael’s evidence, led to drugs worth £49m being recovered from a distribution network that is thought to have smuggled more than 110 kg of cocaine and 19,000 kg of cannabis into Britain. Michael has also alleged that a corrupt police officer took £10,000 cash handouts from him. [2][3] Including drug smuggling, money laundering and prostitution, it brought him in an estimated fortune of £107million. Among the people Michael Michael had informed on, were his own wife Lynn, given a 24-month jail sentence suspended for two years for her role as a cash courier, and his younger brother, Xanthos, his lover Sue Richards, and Janice Marlborough, his business lieutenant who ran his string of brothels. He admitted one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, a similar charge involving cannabis, and three conspiracies charges to launder the proceeds. He has also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm. [2][3] He is thought to have been given a new identity under the terms of the witness protection programme. [2][3]

    Michael’s was a former hairdresser who was ‘under obbo’, and who too became a target from customs detectives, that on the 25th April 1998, Customs investigators launched an “obbo” codenamed Operation Draft. [3] It uncovered 16kg of cocaine, 2.9 tons of cannabis worth £11.6 million, guns and £800,000 in cash. He had been identified as a member of a drug ring, based at the Lee industrial estate in Hertfordshire. They were smuggling cannabis and cocaine into the country in cars, a coach, nicknamed the Fun Bus, and an oil tanker. When officers arrested him after four months, Michael’s was wearing body armour and brandished a gun. Woolwich Crown Court heard that Michael’s alleged he was paying his ‘police handler’ up to £10,000 a week in return for providing information; “of great value”. He claimed the officer turned a blind eye to the drug smuggling. Tracey Kirby, 38, a former Sun page three model, received three years after admitting being a money courier for Michael’s. [4] In 1981 Christopher Black, after securing assurances that he would be granted immunity, he gave statements which led to 38 arrests. On 5 August 1983, 22 members of the Provisional IRA were sentenced to a total of more than 4,000 cumulative years in prison, based on Black’s testimonies alone [eighteen of these convictions were overturned on appeal on 17 July 1986]. [5] By the end of 1982, 25 more ‘Supergrasses’ had surfaced contributing to the arrests of over six hundred people. Many convictions based on ‘Supergrass’ testimony were later overturned, and the ‘Supergrass’ system was discontinued in 1985, until re emerging recently, in 2011. Though to get around this problem, many people are ‘grassed on’, though no testaments are used against then, though it’s normally enough to justify an ‘obbo’ on those the police now have such information on. The first ‘Supergrass’ trial in 26 years began on the 8th of September 2011, for the murder of UDA member Tommy English. [5]

    Super-grasses

    [1a] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/feb/12/ukcrime1

    [2a] http://www.met.police.uk/history/krays.htm

    [3a] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kray_twins

    [4a] ^ Read, Leonard. Nipper Read, The Man Who Nicked The Krays. Time Warner Paperbacks 2001. p.291-292. ISBN 0-7515-3175-8

    [5a]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/05/19/do1901.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/05/19/ixopinion.html

    [1] http://britainsunderworld.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/on-run-in-amsterdam.html

    [2] ^ a b c Gangster supergrass jailed | UK news | The Guardian

    [3] ^ http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-811197-britains-biggest-supergrass.do

    [4] ^ Supergrass shopped 34 crooks – even his mother | Mail Online

    [5] ^ Informers crippling IRA…; The Times; 25 Mar 1982; pg1 col E

    For much more details and photos etc. see:

    http://www.amadnesssharedbytwo.com




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