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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 11:15 GMT
Security loophole
A cctv camera
Panorama: Britain's Protection Racket, BBC One 8.30pm Monday 21 January 2008
Panorama goes undercover in Britain's 7 billion security industry, and finds an industry still scarred by a culture of violence and intimidation.

It is an industry, where former criminals can flourish.

A loophole in new legislation allows serious criminals to continue to operate in the industry by changing their job title to "security consultants".

Panorama's undercover investigation shows how this has worked for one man, a convicted drugs trafficker with a firearms offence who now claims to operate a security empire that spans city centres, motorways, supermarkets, colleges and toy stores.

Drug smuggling

Robert Wright is now a major figure in the security firm Feba Custodia whose clients are said to include; Walmart, Asda and Disney.

The private security industry is a good industry that happens to have a few bad eggs in it
Michael Wilson, Chief Executive, Security Industry Authority

Seven years ago Wright ran a security company in Scotland - but police also believed he was the mastermind of a drugs smuggling operation.

He was arrested in March 2001 after another man believed to be his drugs mule was stopped trying to cross from Estonia to Finland with 19.5 kilos of opium with a street value of 1 million.

Wright spent five years fighting extradition but was eventually deported to Estonia. A deal was done. He pled guilty and in return was sentenced to less time than he had already spent on remand.

He was immediately sent back to Britain. He is now back in the security industry using the loophole, calling himself a 'security consultant'.

Robert Wright
Robert Wright says he is making a 'good living' out of security
During Panorama's secret filming, Wright admits to being more than a consultant at Feba Custodia saying it is he who is 'driving' the company which he says employs around 1200 people.

He introduces 'his' team including soemone he has recently promoted.

He even claims he is in charge of security for Mickey Mouse.

Everything we've been talking about, everything I'm doing, is completely confidential
Robert Wright
During secret filming he says: "I am working quite extensively with Walmart at the moment...

"I am doing really well with them, I am earning quite a substantial amount of money just now.

"Believe it or not I am working with the police in Sheffield on an advisory capacity working on the CCTV Liaison Unit."

There is no suggestion that Feba Custodia is involved in criminal activity and Walmart, Asda, Disney and South Yorkshire Police all denied directly employing Feba Custodia.

But sources told Panorama that in an industry where sub-contracting was common, it was possible they could be indirectly employing Wright without knowing it.

Gold Standard

Wright certainly doesn't want the extent of his involvement to be made public.

During secret filming he said: "Just to reiterate what I have said, everything we've been talking about, everything I'm doing, is completely confidential."

The government claims to have cleaned up the security business after setting up the Security Industry Authority to ensure security firms are vetted and licensed.

Feba Custodia has been awarded Approved Contractor Status - the gold standard for the security industry.

An industry insider told Panorama: "You would have thought... that type of individual would never in a month of Sundays be able to operate. It begs the question, how has he been able to obtain a licence, how has he been able to run a company, how has that company achieved that status.

Panorama: Britain's Protection Racket, BBC One 8.30pm Monday 21 January 2008.

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Watch Panorama: Britain's Protection Racket



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