Hell's Grannies

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Sinister double lives of grannies who controlled drugs empires.
They made fortunes, became informers, then, from behind bars, did they hatch a
plan to taint police as corrupt?

Tony Thompson and Martin Bright
Saturday May 18 2002
The Guardian


They were two glamorous grandmothers living dangerous double lives.

Evelyn Fleckney, petite, blonde and highly flirtatious, and Diane Morris, tall,
busty and prone to violent outbursts, were two of Britain's most successful drug
dealers, selling millions of pounds worth of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy and
using the money to sustain their extravagant lifestyles. They were feared and
respected throughout the underworld and trusted by members of some of south
London's most notorious criminal families.

But, unknown to even their friends and families, both Morris and Fleckney were
police informants, passing on details of the criminal activities of those around
them in order to claim reward money and also as 'insurance', should they
themselves ever end up before the courts.

The women, both in their late forties, are now serving prison terms. But an
Observer investigation can reveal that the two drug baronesses are at the centre
of a top-level Scotland Yard inquiry after it was suspected they had hatched an
elaborate plan to get their sentences reduced by making false allegations of
corruption against a serving policeman.

The investigation threatens to rock the credibility of the Metropolitan Police's
elite anti-corruption squad - which was working with the women - and could even
see several officers convicted of drugs-related crimes walk free from prison.

Fleckney, who dubbed herself 'the chairman of the board', controlled her
multi-million-pound drugs empire from her plush four-bedroom house in Tunbridge
Wells, Kent, and boasted of having access to huge hoards of drugs. She was once
heard to say: 'There are not many drug dealers like me. Go and find another bird
that can get what I can get. I could have a million pills if I wanted.' To
reduce the risk of arrest, she never handled the drugs herself but instead kept
them stashed in isolated country hideaways.

Morris became involved in drug trafficking through her husband, Ray. They became
notorious around the Tooting, south London, area for always collecting any money
owing to them. It would usually be Diane who struck out first. In one attack she
used a baseball bat and CS gas on a teenager who allegedly owed her money.

When Ray was jailed in 1991, Diane took over the business completely and found
herself making thousands of pounds each week. She has a reputation for being
fearless and was once   convicted of assaulting an off-duty police officer after
dragging him out of his car and beating him unconscious.

The two women had never worked together but knew of each other by reputation.
They met for the first time in April 1998 in Holloway prison. Morris had been
there for almost a year and Fleckney had just arrived after the end of her court
case. During their trials, neither had made any allegations of police corruption
but Fleckney had alleged she was having an affair with a police officer.

Soon after arriving at Holloway she was visited by officers from the
anti-corruption branch, CIB3, and asked if she had any information about corrupt
activities stemming from the affair. Fleckney claims she was offered a
substantial reduction in her sentence in return for testifying against a number
of officers.

After learning that Morris had also been an informant, Fleckney shared details
of her offer from CIB3. Officers are investigating whether Morris decided to
make allegations against her own handler, detective constable Jeff May, in the
hope of having her own sentence reduced. If so, she could have asked Fleckney to
corroborate her claims. Within days, Fleckney had made a statement to CIB3
claiming she had bought heroin from May. Soon after wards, Morris was visited by
CIB3 officers and alleged that she had bought drugs from May and that he had
tipped her off about a raid on her home, giving her time to remove all drugs
from the premises. The two women were moved to separate locations so their
individual accounts would not be contaminated. DC May was arrested and suspended
from duty.

But as the investigation continued, cracks in the stories began to appear.
Morris had claimed that when police raided her house looking for drugs, she told
them May had tipped her off. When the officers concerned were questioned, they
said Morris never mentioned the name of the officer who tipped her off and
someone other than May was believed to be responsible.

Fleckney also admitted she did not know the identity of the man who had
allegedly sold her heroin and concluded it might have been May only after
speaking to Morris. The description she gave officers did not match May other
than the fact he had a ponytail - a detail passed on to her by Morris.

Some detectives working on the case began to suspect Morris had invented all her
claims against May to get her sentence reduced. They believed she had persuaded
Fleckney to corroborate her story by inventing a heroin sale from May.

These suspicions were confirmed when, shortly afterwards, prison authorities
intercepted secret letters between Morris and Fleckney which seem to show them
agreeing to support one another's stories. Knowing they were banned from
contacting one another, the women wrote via a third party. In one letter the
go-between writes: 'Remember your friend!!! She's here. Remember the talk you
both had in the special clinic!!! Well she stuck to the same story, she ain't
changed it, even though she's been nicked for it and has to go back to court,
she's still sticking to what was said in special clinic OK!!'

Investigators believe this is a reference to the fact that because Fleckney made
an admission of selling drugs to May, she had to go to court and receive a
sentence for it.

May was later reinstated but the strain of the investigation left him clinically
depressed and he retired on grounds of ill health. He is suing the Metropolitan
Police for wrongful arrest. A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard confirmed that an
official complaint was received from May and that an investigating officer had
been appointed to the case. 'Because the investigation is now under way, we are
unable to make any comment at the present time,' she said.

May has also made a complaint against the Met after learning that the evidence
that Morris was lying had been available to CIB3 before he was arrested. The
investigation into his complaint has major implications for CIB3 as Fleckney was
the key witness in a subsequent trial which saw five police officers convicted
of drugs-related offences. The officers concerned were unaware of the case
against May and believe Fleckney's credibility could have been severely damaged
if it could have been shown that she had fabricated evidence.

Fleckney appealed against the length of her sentence and had it reduced from 15
to eight years after a senior officer from CIB3 made submissions in closed
court. She is set to go free in a matter of weeks.

The top-level probe comes amid renewed calls for an independent inquiry into the
work of CIB3 by MPs and a member of the House of Lords who have raised concerns
about tactics used by the squad to secure convictions.

tony.thompson@observer.co.uk
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