BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama: Archive  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Archive
The Bent Cop
The Bent Cop
Sunday December 3 2000
Reporter Graeme McLagan
Producer Sally Johnston
Assistant Producer Nicole Kleeman


Panorama tells the extraordinary story of a police officer's slide in to corruption and his remarkable change of heart. In the first television interview ever broadcast with any supergrass, Neil Putnam, recently released from prison, comes out of hiding.

Neil Putnam
Putnam always wanted to be a police officer, and joined at the age of 19
Putnam was a police officer in the Met for twenty-two years. For the last eight years of his career he was corrupt. He stole drugs and sold them, extorted money, and stole cash.

In 1998 he confessed, entered the witness protection programme and become a police supergrass. The evidence he gave against some of his former colleagues saw them sent to prison for up to twelve years.

Bob Clark
Clark was arrogant and selfish, and dictated to the others in the gang
Putnam worked alongside Detective Constable Bob Clark and Sergeant Chris Drury, who received the heftiest sentences in the trial at the Old Bailey. Clark wielded huge influence beyond his rank. Chris Drury, who was a heavy drinker and had a drug habit, was his loyal lieutenant.

Putnam reveals the depth of corruption at the prestigious South East Regional Crime Squad based at East Dulwich, which spanned nearly a decade. He talks about how and why he was tempted, and the day-to-day details of how drugs were stolen, how they were recycled, how the corrupt members of the team operated and who was paid off.

After three months on the squad, Putnam was involved in a seizure of 600,000 worth of cannabis. Bob Clark approached Putnam during the raid and asked if had a bag he could borrow.

I thought well if that's the way I've got to succeed here to be accepted, to be part of the team, then I've got to go along with it

Neil Putnam
Putnam assumed he wanted it to gather exhibits. In fact, Clark was using the bag to steal some of the drugs. Three weeks later, Clark gave him 300. Putnam's career was taking a new direction.

Putnam tells Panorama, "I knew that I wanted to succeed on the Regional Crime Squad and I thought well if that's the way I've got to succeed here to be accepted, to be part of the team, then I've got to go along with it."

In various raids, the corrupt officers stole and recycled the drugs that should have been used as evidence against dealers, and they split the profits.

Bob Clark also blatantly flouted police regulations over the use of informants. He was often seen socialising with Eve Fleckney, a known drug dealer and informant. He openly talked about his relationship with her, telling Putnam that they spent a weekend together in a hotel.

Panorama reveals how the gang chose who to steal from, and why they believed they would never be caught. Putnam says, "We felt we were untouchable and no one was going to touch us, no one was going to find out that we were stealing."

In 1996, the squad raided a remote cottage, the home of Lawrence and Sheila Burns.
The kind of abuse of power was just immense really

Sheila Burns
They were acting on a tip off that it was a safe house used by a known dealer called Guildford John. But it was the wrong house and all they found was an envelope with 800, the couple's savings, and a small amount of cannabis.

Rather than leave empty handed, Putnam blackmailed the couple. He kept the money and left the cannabis. Sheila Burns says "the kind of abuse of power was just immense really."

For Putnam, this was a defining moment. He says, "I had come to the lowest point I could possibly go. I just hated myself."

John Yates
John Yates worked on the investigation into the corrupt officers
Graeme McLagan talks to the police officers who investigated and exposed the squad's corrupt officers, and to the drug dealers who were ripped off. It is a tale of breathtaking arrogance and power, of flats full of money and cash in brown envelopes.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Yates explains how informants benefited from their relationship with the bent police officers. "To have the cover of a detective who knows all the means, all the tricks of the trade that the major crime squads operate would have been invaluable."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Bent Cop
Putnam became involved with corruption after 3 months on the Regional Crime Squad
Bent Cop
Graeme McLagan reports on the raid that lead to Putnam's downfall

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Archive stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes