Playing the hardman with Ronnie Biggs

From The Observer
The lost world of Scotland Yard detectives with cropped moustaches and Fleet Street writers with extravagant expenses still flourished in 1974, when Colin MacKenzie of the Express brought in the best and by my reckoning last scoop in the paper’s history.

He had found Ronnie Biggs. The great train robber, who had escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965, was living under an assumed name in Brazil. Then as now, newspapers had to respect the law – not obsessively comply with its every detail, you understand, but occasionally acknowledge its existence. The Express cut a deal with the Yard. They would interview Biggs, and then Superintendent Jack Slipper could burst in and arrest him.

Unfortunately, the Brazilian authorities did not take well to gringo coppers giving orders in Rio de Janeiro as if it were a British colony. Because Biggs had got a local girl pregnant, they decided that as the father of a future Brazilian citizen, he could not be extradited.

Go read the whole thing

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2 thoughts on “Playing the hardman with Ronnie Biggs

  1. Straw is a tough man. When asked if he had even thought about resigning over the horrible murders of the two french students ( was it both were stabbed about 120 times?) he said he hadn’t – not even thought about it, mind!
    The presenter mentioned Maggie Thatcher’s willie resigning after some sort of intrusion, I think, at Buckingham palace when he was Home Secretary. So the writing is on the drip bag for Biggsy.
    See how tough Straw can be.

  2. I was writing the above from a library – well, I say library – yeah there’s books there but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a piano in the corner as well…bloody noisy place. I forgot to make sense of what I’d written above. One of the murderers, Sonnex, (Farmer being his accomplice) should still have been locked up on another charge at the time the murders were committed. The radio interviewer asked Jack Straw, if that, and the other revealed blunders too, had made him think about resigning, to which he replied no. Willie Whitelaw was used as an example as someone, when Home secretary, who offered his resignation for something so much lower in significance as to be trivial (I think) compared with the horrific episode. A man broke into the queen’s bedroom at Buckingham palace. Straw claimed he was just being honest. Whitelaw couldn’t believe his failure of security and at least offered to go. Straw didn’t even think about his and still remains. If it wasn’t for Gordon Brown already cancelling my vote, after listening to Straw that would have threw it at whoever just as much.
    But Biggs is now out. Probably because the law allows this when someone has roughly only 3 months to live.

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