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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
'Wall of silence' around Krays
The Krays
The Krays became Britain's best-known gangsters
Detectives who spent years trying to bring the notorious Kray twins to justice were unable to control their gangster empire.

New documents released by the Public Records Office show Flying Squad officers felt powerless to stop the new breed of underworld figures operating in London.

The secret Metropolitan Police memo, detailed how former Detective Superintendent Tommy Butler pursued the East End criminals, in their early years.

Ronald Kray was described as " certainly mentally unstable" in the documents.

Not one victim can be persuaded to give evidence against anyone connected with their organisation

Former Detective Superintendent Tommy Butler
"They are known as The Twins," wrote Mr Butler, "live together in Stepney, owned the Double R club, a sink of iniquity and the Regal Billiards Hall in Bow."

The twins' protection racket intimidated the owners of clubs, cafes, billiard halls, pubs and car dealers in the East End with the threat of violence.

"Their reputation is already such that persons threatened almost frantically deny visitations by anyone connected with the Kray twins," said Mr Butler.

"Not one victim can be persuaded to give evidence against anyone connected with their organisation.

"The fact that Ronald Kray is certainly mentally unstable (to put it at the very least) is of immense importance to the others.

The documents show how Ronnie was "tormented" with his homosexuality
"And it adds considerably to the victim's undeniable urge to comply with demands made upon him, and to his atrocious memory when questioned by police at any later stage."

At times, Mr Butler's frustration over the ability of Reggie to elude justice boiled over, particularly over his appeal and release on bail after being sentenced to 18 months for demanding money with menaces from a Finchley shopkeeper.

"For reasons not known, that appeal is still outstanding and Kray is at liberty", added Mr Butler.

He adds in his letter to his chief superintendent in 1960: "It will be interesting to see the outcome of this appeal and its repercussions as far as the shopkeeper is concerned."

His letter was prompted by an "impertinent" warning from the Krays' solicitors to lay off their investigations.

'Fat poof'

A statement by a bookie's clerk for Ronnie's trial over the shooting of George Cornell in a pub in 1966 for calling him a "fat poof", gave an insight into his torment over his homosexuality.

Charles Clark, who Ronnie Kray lived with for nine months from the end of 1964, wrote: "He once told me the tragedy of his life was that he was the twin who was born the wrong way round sexually.

"He wanted to turn in his life of crime and turn over a new leaf."

Celebrity friends

The confidante, who also claimed Ronnie was generous to old people, went on: "We talked of this for a long time. He said he cried inside himself every day."

Mr Clark also told police in the statement that celebrities, including Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra's son Frank, frequently visited Ronnie, known to hob-nob with stars like Barbara Windsor.

Ronnie was jailed for life for the Cornell shooting, Reggie for stabbing to death Jack "The Hat" McVitie.

Ronnie died in prison in 1995 and his brother died, aged 66, from cancer after 31 years in jail.

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

11 Oct 00 | UK
Funeral tributes for Kray
11 Oct 00 | UK
End of an era
01 Oct 00 | UK
Last of an infamous trio
01 Oct 00 | UK
Reggie Kray dies
26 Aug 00 | UK
Reggie Kray to be freed
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