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Summary

In July 1964, the Sunday Mirror ran a front-page story headlined: Peer and a Gangster: Yard Enquiry. While withholding the names of the principal subjects, the newspaper reported that the Metropolitan Police had ordered an investigation into an alleged homosexual relationship between ‘a household name’ from the House of Lords and a leading London underworld figure. Bob Boothby was the Conservative lord in question and Ronnie Kray the gangster. 

The story threatened a scandal more explosive than that of the previous year’s Profumo affair, which had brought an end to Macmillan’s premiership. So began one of the most extraordinary cover-ups in British history - a rapid rearguard action involving eminent figures from the political firmament (including the then prime minister and home secretary), the Security Service, the Metropolitan Police, the legal profession and the media. Within a couple of weeks the story had been killed off. Now, for the first time, the full saga of the cover-up - and its far-reaching consequences - can be revealed.

©2020 Dan Smith (P)2020 W. F. Howes

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Plus ca change...

It would be hard to believe that people got away with what they got away with in the 1960 s, but for the fact that nothing has changed.
A measured and reasonable account of events, that still manages to be staggering.

8 people found this helpful

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Ok, but.........

I enjoyed this book but.......
- please pronounce the character’s names properly. Too many examples of things like, ‘Abs’ instead of ‘(Leo) Abse’ etc. It was very distracting.
- the corruption and ‘old boy network’ was central to the story then and now. Sadly it was overtaken by the homosexuality aspect with the same thing repeated. It was important and thank heaven we’ve come a long way but too much repetition of he same information.
- too much back and forth from one time and another. For me, a straight forwards linear chronology would have had more impact.
As I said, as a child of the 50s, I remember the players in the news and on TV so enjoyed it but it lacked the depth of the fictional G F Newman’s ‘The Corrupted’.

4 people found this helpful

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Cover-up, controversy, and the Krays

Lord Boothby was a politician and a media personality with a hidden double life that took him in to the orbit of London gangsters the Kray twins. Over the years he was one of their highest-profile apologists and champions; in return, Ronnie Kray supplied him with rent boys. It was a symbiotic relationship that might have remained under wraps for ever. This is a detailed account of the Establishment cover-up that successfully swept the story under the carpet at the time - in 1964. Over the years the truth emerged. Organised crime never stops looking for help from powerful allies who should know better, and men in high places too often think they’re untouchable. It’s a remarkable episode in postwar British history. Smith sets it in context - after Profumo, there was no appetite in public life for yet more sleaze. There’s a long cast-list of colourful and deeply unsavoury characters. But there’s also a darker strand - these men had to keep their proclivities secret because of the law at the time, but it’s clear they coerced their partners in some cases into sex. Kray used violence or the threat of it to recruit his partners, and those he procured for Boothby. They were larger than life characters - but also shabby figures who don’t deserve to be canonised. There’s plenty of evidence that Labour MP Tom Driberg, a Boothby ally and Kray supporter, was a child sex abuser. Smith does his subjects justice and the narration is steady and clear. As fascinating as the topic is, this does feel like an overly lengthy treatment - there’s almost too much context. But the story does deserve a wider audience. If you’re interested in learning more, the film Legend starring Tom Hardy, and the late John Sessions as Boothby, is well worth a watch.

1 person found this helpful

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How the other half live!

This shows that reform is needed they all have the morals of alley cats and it will always be one law for them and one law for us

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  • 30-05-21

more like a political history lesson.

didn't finish it as I expected far more about Ronnie Kray and apart from the odd mention it was a political history lesson.

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A difficult listen

A story of great interest marred by lack of chronology and further undermined by mediocre narration.

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Great book

Excellant book, going back to recent policak history and crime.Great listen without doubt.
Try it

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Give it a chance - you have to work at it

This is not an audible book you can half listen to; to be honest it may work better in print. That said I learnt a lot about the people we are supposed to look up to in society - MPs, peers, police, newspapers. The sad thing is nothing has really changed. There are still scandles going on, things are covered up, crimes are committed and brushed under the carpet. I do believe, however, that with the advent of social media, many crimes cannot be hidden so easily.

The fact that the LGTBQ+ community is now out and proud, means that a lot more people are living a much better life than when this book was set. The infamous closet was the cause of many of these horrible crimes - murder, blackmail, rape.

I learnt a lot about the Krays that the films want to ignore - and yet they lived under a shield of protection created by the establishment. The establishment should hang their heads in shame... but they never will; they will always justify their actions.

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Brilliant

This is the best book I have downloaded on Audible. It is factual and riveting. The stories we all heard are there but also the background as to how the whole sordid mess was achieved. Don’t miss the Epilogue it is good.