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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 19:22 GMT
'Priceless' Beatles tapes discovered
The Beatles
The Fab Four in their heyday
A cache of 500 original Beatles tapes stolen in the 1970s and containing tracks which have never before been released, has been recovered.

Police said the tapes were "priceless" and the only recordings from them which had ever been heard before were on bootlegs.

They were discovered in Holland when police cracked a piracy racket, arresting five people in raids in west London and the Netherlands.

The tapes are the only original recordings made and are thought likely to include material which has never been previously released.

They contain what is knows as the Get Back sessions.

Music piracy is a serious crime

David Munns, EMI vice chairman
An album of the same name was due to be released in 1969, but the project was abandoned and they became part of the Let It Be album instead.

The tapes disappeared shortly after the 1969 Get Back sessions, which saw the band returning to a back to basics approach to recording after the tensions of the 1968 "White Album".

The reels contain dozens of entire songs, as well as snippets of tracks which they attempted and then abandoned during the rehearsals.

A number of pirated versions of the tapes have been recovered in the UK, Mainland Europe and the USA, since they went missing more than 30 years ago.

International operation

Detective Inspector Paul Johnston of the City of London Police said: "This is a good example of how an international multi-agency approach by both the private sector and police agencies can combat offences of this nature."

Investigations were conducted by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which consulted the City of London Police, who identified a number of suspects.

A joint covert operation was mounted between the City of London Police's central detective unit and Dutch police.

On 10 January, City of London Police officers arrested two people in west London and another three were arrested in a town west of Amsterdam.

Prosecutor spokesman in Amsterdam, Robert Meulenbroek said: "We're currently investigating whether they really are the originals, but it appears to be so.

"There are about 500 tapes, so there's quite a bit to research."

Organised crime

Speaking on News 24, City of London Police's director of intelligence Kieron Sharp said: "The operation was conducted partly over in Holland and partly in this country.

"But the tapes were stored over there and that's where they were recovered."

The police investigation has taken a year to complete.

David Munns, vice chairman of EMI who sits on the IFPI board, said: "Music piracy is a serious crime.

"EMI will support all efforts to defend the intellectual property of our artists and of producers."

IFPI chairman Jay Berman said: "We applaud this exemplary police operation, which reflects the extraordinary level of international co-ordination that is needed to tackle the sophisticated cross-border strategies of today's organised music pirates."

The tapes have been recovered along with other items believed to have been stolen from the recording company.

A number of search warrants have also been executed in the London area.

  The BBC's Jane Peel
"The tapes contain dozens of entire songs"
See also:

07 Oct 02 | Scotland
08 Oct 02 | Scotland
23 Aug 02 | Wales
17 Jun 02 | Entertainment
16 Apr 02 | England
18 Nov 01 | Entertainment
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