In Part One we discussed the early lives of Ronnie and Reggie Kray and how they had gradually worked their way up the ladder, resulting in the unpleasant pair becoming something approaching celebrities after they ‘obtained’ a club called Esmeralda’s Barn in West London. This was the era of the ‘swinging sixties’ and the twins rubbed shoulders with many of the famous faces of that era. Here’s a rare clip of the pair being interviewed:
During this period their criminal activities continued on their own patch in East London. It was around this period that Ronnie’s sexuality made its way into the public eye when a newspaper report in the Sunday Mirror linked him with an unnamed Conservative politician (Lord Boothby). Boothby threatened to sue (although the story was probably true) and the fallout from the defamation case that followed meant that further stories regarding the Krays quickly fizzled out. Boothby’s involvement also meant that the police came under political pressure from the Conservative government not to interfere with the Krays too much.
Ronnie and Reggie, possibly above all other crimes, were linked to three murders which contributed to their eventual downfall. In 1966 they murdered (or allegedly murdered) Frank Mitchell and George Cornell (in the infamous Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel) then in 1967 Reggie stabbed and killed Jack (The Hat) McVitie, an associate they suspected of cheating them.
Inspector ‘Nipper’ Read was the police office who eventually brought the Krays to justice. He has spent several years building a case and attempting to find witnesses but the threats of intimidation were proving a barrier. Eventually in early 1968, Read felt he had enough evidence (and a few witness statements)to arrest the twins. He hoped the fact that the Krays and their mob were in custody would prompt other witnesses to come forward and this is exactly what happened.
All but one of the 17 people arrested were convicted and the Krays received the longest ever sentences handed out for murder at The Old Bailey – 30 years with no parole. Ronnie died in 1995 and Reggie in 2000, missed by some but not by many. Remembered however, by all.