Did Kray twins secretly visit 1960s honeymoon Jersey?
THOUSANDS of couples flocked to the ‘Honeymoon Island’ of Jersey during tourism’s heyday in the 1960s... and one of the world’s most notorious gangsters and his lover may have been among them.
Rumours about the Kray twins’ links to Jersey in the swinging 60s – as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones ruled the music scene and the brothers ‘ruled London’ – are widespread and now a best-selling author is hoping to find out more.
With suggestions that Reggie and his first wife Frances Shea came here as their tragic relationship blossomed, that the twins met gang associates in unknown Jersey hotels and rumours that the Krays’ arch-enemy lived here or visited regularly, Dan Smith is trying to find out more.
The author is currently writing a book about the infamous relationship between Ronnie Kray and Tory peer Lord Boothby with the working title ‘The Peer and the Gangster’. The pair were rumoured to be lovers in the 1960s at a time when homosexuality was outlawed.
Mr Smith said the vicious London twins were regular visitors to the Island and is appealing to Islanders for any information they might have.
‘Anyone with any stories, gossip, knowledge of either of the brothers in the Island, please get in touch,’ said Mr Smith, whose most recent work includes The Ardlamont Mystery: The Real-Life Story Behind the Creation of Sherlock Holmes.
Reggie is said to have whisked his then girlfriend, Frances, to the Island in May 1960, when he was 26 and she was just 16, as the Island’s honeymoon tourist era boomed. Frances took her own life in 1967, two years after the pair married.
And the ties seemingly run deeper. In the book Bringing Down the Krays, by Bobby Teale, it is claimed that the author’s brother David, once one of the twins’ most trusted henchmen, made at least two visits to Jersey to see Ronnie.
Teale and his brothers were influential in bringing the Krays down when they turned against them following the brutal murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie. Mr Smith says that the Teales are said to have met Ronnie ‘in a hotel, near a castle, that also had a bar’.
Mr Smith has also seen a handwritten note from Lord Boothby to Ronnie – dated 6 June 1963 – that suggests the gangster had been a visitor to Jersey. The note from the peer read: ‘Thank you for your postcard. I very nearly went to Jersey myself, as I have never been there, and hear from so many people that it is quite delightful.’
A retired Jersey police officer, a fledgling Detective Constable in circa 1967, said he and his superior were sent to carry out surveillance on the Krays, who were apparently staying at the St Brelade’s Bay Hotel.
‘My superior said roll your sleeves up, you’ll look more like a tourist,’ the former police officer told the JEP. ‘When we got to the bar there they were at the other end. One of brothers shouted down “Don’t let the Old Bill pay for their drinks”. It’s fair to say our surveillance came to nothing.’
The retired officer said the brothers were here for about a week and were ‘seemingly well behaved’.
And one local historian has suggested that the Krays’ interests in Jersey may have been fuelled by rival south London gangster Charlie Richardson’s alleged links to the Island. The Richardson clan – nicknamed The Torture Gang – battled with the Krays for years over London territory. Ronnie shot dead George Cornell, a member of the Richardson Gang, at the Blind Beggar Pub in Whitechapel in 1966 – a murder for which he was later jailed.
It has even been suggested that the Krays’ lesser-known older brother, Charlie, who was jailed for his part in the murders, may have lived in the Island for some period too.
Speaking about his book, which has been commissioned by publishers The History Press, Mr Smith said: ‘It is provisionally entitled “The Peer and the Gangster”, to be published by The History Press next August. It is the first full-length account of the relationship between Conservative peer Lord Boothby, and London mobster Ronnie Kray, and the Establishment cover-up it prompted in 1964.’
In July 1964, the Sunday Mirror ran an exposé suggesting a sexual relationship between an unnamed Tory peer and a famous underworld gangster – at a time when sex between men was still a criminal offence. Although no names were printed, the criminal twins threatened the journalists involved and Lord Boothby threatened to sue the newspaper.
The Mirror backed down, sacking its editor. It printed an apology and paid the Lord £40,000 in an out-of-court settlement.
In 2009, Channel 4 ran a documentary about the pair called The Gangster and the Pervert Peer.
Islanders with any stories about the Krays in Jersey are urged to contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 611692, or email Mr Smith on email@example.com.
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