| 5°C Dublin

bent copper Former Scotland Yard detective who ended up in jail for corruption says the rest of the force was just as bad as him

Detective Norman 'Nobby' Pilcher who went after pop stars reveals all in book about how he caught them with drugs

Close


A former Scotland Yard detective who busted pop stars like John Lennon, Dusty Springfield and George Harrison before ending up in jail himself for corruption says the rest of the force was just as bad as him.

Drugs squad detective Norman 'Nobby' Pilcher became notorious in London's Swinging Sixties for his vigorous pursuit of drug-taking pop stars, with several of his targets claiming he planted drugs on them.

He was regularly pictured arresting big name stars, including members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

He was even referenced in The Beatles song I Am The Walrus with the lyric "semolina pilchard" widely believed to refer to him.

Close

Former drugs officer Norman Pilcher

Former drugs officer Norman Pilcher

Former drugs officer Norman Pilcher

In his new book, Bent Coppers: The Story of The Man Who Arrested John Lennon, George Harrison and Brian Jones, the now 84-year-old said he wants to "set the record straight".

He claims he was the victim of a stitch-up which lead to his career ending in disgrace and a four-year jail sentence for perjury.

Pilcher claims to have joined the Met as an idealistic bobby at the age of 20 but said he discovered he couldn't remain dirt-free if he wanted to investigate crime.

"London and the Met were rotten and if you needed to walk through muck you'd need to be prepared to get your clothes dirty," he says.

He went to become a detective with CID before being transferred to the drugs squad.

Pilcher claims massive pressure was coming down from the Home Office to get headline grabbing busts against high-profile celebrities, so as to deter young people from doing drugs.

Cannabis

One of his earliest high-profile arrests was husky voiced superstar Dusty Springfield, who he claims unleashed a torrent of "foul language and insults" at him when she was busted for cannabis. She later pleaded guilty and was fined.

He also went after Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones in May 1967, on the day his bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were appearing in court following a separate drug raid carried out by other officers.

Reports say police were greeted by Prince Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, Baron de Watteville, who was known to the band as Stash.

When police found cannabis, Jones was recorded as saying: "Yes, it is hash. We do smoke but not the cocaine, man, that's not my scene."

Stash added: "Yes, but we're not junkies."

Jones admitted possession of cannabis and allowing his flat to be used for smoking it and was initially sentenced to nine months in prison in a move widely criticised at the time. The sentenced was reduced on appeal to a £1,000 fine and three years' probation.

However, after the arrest Jones descended further into prescription drug use and he drowned in a swimming pool in July 1969. Pilcher said he believed Jones was murdered.

In 1968, Pilcher went after well-known jazz great Tubby Hayes who he busted for heroin. Hayes was given a suspended sentence but he died in 1973 at the age of 38 following a heart operation.

Close

John Lennon and Yoko Ono leave Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in London after their hearing on charges of drug possession in 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono leave Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in London after their hearing on charges of drug possession in 1968

Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono leave Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in London after their hearing on charges of drug possession in 1968

The following year Pilcher went after perhaps his biggest target when he arrested John Lennon who, along with Yoko Ono, was naked when police burst into their London flat.

Pilcher said he was impressed by Lennon.

Brandy

"His ideas of peace and kindness were expressed in his demeanour and attitude, which was quite humbling indeed," he said.

Pilcher said Lennon explained to him that he felt it was his body and his business if he wanted to smoke a joint.

He said Lennon changed his thinking on drugs possession and said he felt bad about the arrest.

However, he claims Lennon, who was fined for possession of a small amount of cannabis as a result of the raid, sent cops signed records and brandy after the case was over.

Pilcher also claimed he received postcards from Lennon afterwards, including one from Japan saying: "You can't get me now!"

However, he added that he lost them in a house move so couldn't print them in his book.

Despite claiming Lennon changed his perspective on drug possession, Pilcher continued to target celebrities and generate headlines.

Others he targeted included George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, who were found with small amounts of cannabis. Harrison claimed the drugs were planted but Pilcher denied this.

He also went after The Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who was charged with possession of cocaine and ammunition after police raided the band's hotel in 1970.

Questions were raised at the time as to where the police got their information that Stubbs was carrying cocaine.

Stubbs denied the drugs were his and he was eventually acquitted.

Groupie

He admitted the ammunition was his and received a small fine for carrying ammunition without the proper licence.

Pilcher was pictured arresting so many celebrities he became known as "groupie Pilcher".

While he was suspected of enjoying the limelight himself, he blames all the photos of that time on corrupt cops leaking the arrests to the press for money.

Around the same time there was a drive to go after corrupt cops at the Met and Pilcher found himself under investigation.

He was one of dozens of bent cops who would soon find themselves behind bars due to the corruption crackdown.

Close

George Harrison (pictured) and John Lennon were both nabbed by ‘Nobby’ Pilcher who went after famous people suspected of having drug

George Harrison (pictured) and John Lennon were both nabbed by ‘Nobby’ Pilcher who went after famous people suspected of having drug

George Harrison (pictured) and John Lennon were both nabbed by ‘Nobby’ Pilcher who went after famous people suspected of having drug

Pilcher was involved in a drugs trafficking trial during which there were concerns about planting drugs and other issues and he was at the centre of an anti-corruption inquiry along with six other drugs squad officers.

He was charged with perverting the course of justice in 1972 and stepped down from the force before leaving for Australia.

He was detained on arrival in Australia and sent back to the UK where he was convicted and sentenced to four years for a lesser charge of perjury in 1973 after admitting to falsifying entries in his police diary.

Sentencing him, Judge Melford Stephenson said: "You poisoned the wells of criminal justice and set about it deliberately … not the least grave aspect of what you have done is provide material for the crooks, cranks and do-gooders who unite to attack the police whenever the opportunity arises."

Pilcher spent two years in prison and said after he got out he ran a care home and driving school.

He said he now believes drugs should be legalised.

Sunday World


Privacy