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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Tributes to a 'gangster star'
Reggie Kray
Reggie Kray has lost his fight against cancer
Barbara Windsor has led tributes to Reggie Kray, who died on Sunday after a battle against cancer.

"I'm really sad," said the actress.

"Over the years, I just kept in touch with him," she said of the former East End gangster.

"I just would have been happy had he spent more quality time with his wife Roberta," she added.

Fellow EastEnders star Martin Kemp, who played Kray's twin Ronnie in the 1990 movie The Krays, also said he was saddened by Reggie's death.

They done unto those what they would have done to them

Tony Lambrianou

"My sympathy goes to his family and friends," the former Spandau Ballet musician added.

Tony Lambrianou, who disposed of the body of one of Kray's murder victim, also rejected the suggestion he should be remembered as an "evil and violent" man.

Lambrianou, who was jailed for 15 years in 1969 for his part in the killing of Jack 'The Hat' McVitie, said: "We should forget about the past."

'Aggressive character'

He said of the twins: "They were not evil men.

"They done unto those what they would have done to them, and this involved other villains," said the man who placed McVitie's body into a car and had it crushed into a three foot cube, which the twins called "the Oxo".

"It's not an excuse, that's just facts," Lambrianou concluded.

Martin Kemp in The Krays
Martin Kemp played Reggie's twin brother Ronnie in the 1990 film
But Leonard "Nipper" Read, the detective who arrested the twins in 1968, said the image of Reggie as a popular folk hero was misplaced.

"He was equally, if not more aggressive than Ronnie," said the retired detective superintendent.

"He was known to be an aggressive character - the sort of guy, if you said two wrong words to him, he would immediately attack you," Mr Read added.

Kray's biographer John Pearson told the BBC the twins were very much characters of the 1960s.

"They knew an enormous amount of famous people, politicians and films stars, and they were very keen to make their names as stars themselves," he said.

'Criminal celebrities'

"The fact was they were gangsters - gangster stars.

"What is so strange about them is that they became unique criminal celebrities.

"Everyone, whenever they think of a violent criminal, the name Kray always comes up."

I didn't know him but I think he was a wonderful man

Belinda Cox
Dave Courtney, a close friend of Kray's from south London, said: "It's terribly sad but his legacy will simply be that crime doesn't pay."

"I am actually glad in a way that it is all over because I know how much pain he was in," he added.

Mr Courtney said Kray's army of fans "kept him going" through all his years in prison.

"Reggie's mailbag was incredible," he said.

"He would have between 50 and 60 letters every day.

"That really kept his spirits up because it doesn't matter how tough you are, no-one likes prison."

'No hero'

But the director of the Victims of Crime Trust warned that it would be wrong to glamourise Kray following his death.

Dave Courtney
Dave Courtney: 'Crime doesn't pay'
Norman Brennan said he was "one of the most feared criminals in the country" in the 1960s.

"Reggie Kray was no hero or celebrity and should be remembered as neither," he said.

"He was a career criminal and a convicted murderer and anyone who believes differently will have forgotten that he held part of east London to ransom."

"To believe otherwise is to be detached from reality."

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See also:

01 Oct 00 | UK
Reggie Kray dies
01 Oct 00 | Europe
British gangster Reggie Kray dead
01 Oct 00 | UK
Last of an infamous trio
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