Bent Coppers by Norman Pilcher (Clink Street Publishing) is an intriguing, vivid and disturbing insight into his work as a young and ambitious police officer in the Metropolitan Police Drug squad in the 1960s. Book review by John T Morris.
An Intriguing Insight
The author portrays himself as a police officer on an “Eliot-Ness-style mission” to tackle head-on the burgeoning and wanton drug culture of high-profile groups and individuals who considered themselves untouchable due to their wealth. Readers will find Norman’s accounts of his team known as the “Whispering Squad” and their efforts involving celebrities such as George Harrison, Brian Jones, John Lennon, Dusty Springfield, Lionel Bart, Tubby Hayes and others insightful and eye-opening.
A major tenet of the book is the focus on corruption at all levels within the Metropolitan Police. In particular, “high-powered persons who allowed the issue to run wild“. These people were at complete odds with Norman Pilcher’s personal desire to show right and honest behaviour. Consequently, Norman pulls no punches as he vividly points out the corruption that went on and the reality awaiting new police officers in their role.
Perjury and Imprisonment
However, a charge of perjury and actual imprisonment turned the author’s efforts to be a squeaky clean and effective detective on their head. This charge and imprisonment blotted the character of the author. In an extensive review of events, incidents and, in particular, the actions of certain key senior officers in the Met, Pilcher contends unreservedly that he and others were used as collateral damage to save others higher up. His main purpose in writing the book is to set the record straight concerning his and his team’s reputation.
Readers will gain awareness of the depth of illegal activities and crime from the author’s experiences and adventures working in London. For example, his dealings with Eve, a high-class prostitute, who became an informer for over five years. His initial meeting with her was when he called at her luxury flat to execute a drug search warrant. On subsequently entering the bedroom, he confronted a naked man with a sheet around his waist with his wrists tied to the bedposts. The author comments “I recognised him as a well known Conservative MP”!
His interview for a post in the Drugs Squad with Detective Chief Superindent Wally Virgo was of greater significance. He states this event demonstrated the corrupt character of Virgo who was enjoying a free meal and a spread of drinks, his own innocence and, in particular, how things operated in the Met. In fact, he contends that in the 1960s, the Met Police was “rotten to its core”.
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It is clear from evidence within an extensive section of photographs and letters that the police board held the author in high esteem. This esteem was due to official commendations and success in the Cayman Islands amongst other success. His desire to go after the drug dealers and destroy their supply chain after Brian Jones and Tubby Hayes’ deaths was another reason for his fine reputation.
However, the appointment of Robert Mark as the deputy Chief Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police completely undermined his work and life. Pilcher acknowledges Mark’s quest to stamp out corruption within the CID and other specialist squads. Additionally, Mark sought to remove the negative influence and impact of freemasonry upon the service. He also brought the corrupt Vic Kelleher, Pilcher’s senior officer, to justice.
Nevertheless, there were many reasons Pilcher and members of his team ended up facing trial and, for some, penal punishment. These reasons included the extensive case involving the Salah family, the discrepancies in evidence in officer’s notebooks and their diaries, and the part Commander Wally Virgo and others played. In particular, the continuing influence of Freemasonry contributed to his downfall.
The reader needs to read the book carefully and assess the evidence. They must come to their own conclusion as to whether they concur that this book will “straighten out rumours and hearsay… because this record is the truth and truth is the most powerful thing of all.”
This is an electrifying and absorbing account of a key period within the largest enforcement service in the United Kingdom. It allowed extensive corruption, the negative influence of Freemasonry and poor leadership to fester and take hold.
About the Reviewer
John T Morris graduated from Aberystwyth University. His thesis in physical education was on the relationship between aerobic and anaerobic power. He was also a fitness and weight-training instructor in Queens Park for 28 years, fitness coach for Wrexham Rugby Club, North Wales Under 21 squad and an advisory coach with the WRU.
John specialises in improving personal performance levels, motivation, determination and resilience.
About the Author of ‘Bent Coppers’
Norman Clement Pilcher, AKA Nobby Pilcher, (born 1935) is a former British police officer. He transferred to the Drug Squad from the Flying Squad in 1967. Bent Coppers was released in September 2020.
Title: Bent Coppers
Author: Norman Pilcher
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Length: 198 pages
About the Publisher
Clink Street Publishing is a publishing house aiming to blend traditional publishing elements with the best bits of self-publishing. As the publishing industry evolves, we wanted to create an imprint that gives authors creative freedom, generous royalty returns and complete ownership of every inch of their books. Additionally, we provide support and guidance, strong design and editorial values, brilliant distribution and expert publicity and marketing.
Our authors deserve to have quality books with commercial appeal, editorial integrity, excellent branding and design, and be creatively and thoroughly promoted.
Clink Street Publishing
71-75 Shelton St, Covent Garden
London, WC2H 9JQ
Tel: 020 7995 8225
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