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  Death in Brixton
winston smith

Andy Beckett’s “Death in Woolwich” centres on Daniel Williams killing Norman Francis in Woolwich, south-east London, on October 15, 2001. Beckett’s alleged theme is each death has outcomes, “aftershocks”. They affect not only the victim’s family but also everyone involved (1).

Beckett does not describe Francis’ death as a black-on-black. However, he does say: “Francis was, Williams is, black”. As a result, he does get across his message: it was black-on-black, a phenomenon the Guardian informs its readers about regularly (2).

Beckett could have written an article focusing on the “aftershocks” from the murder of Marcia Lawes by Delroy Denton in Brixton on April 15, 1995. Marcia Lawes was, Denton is, black. Like Francis, Lawes had two children (blink 24/10/02).

Unlike Williams, the police could have stopped Denton killing Lawes. On May 12 1994, during a raid on the Atlantic pub in Brixton, police arrested Denton. They found out he had entered Britain from Jamaica illegally. They bribed him into becoming an informer in exchange for a salary and not deporting him. One year on, when he murdered Marcia Lawes, Denton was still an illegal immigrant on police payroll (3).

If the Metropolitan police had deported Denton when they arrested him in 1994, the “aftershocks” suffered by Marcia Lawes’ family would not have began with her murder in April 1995.

Beckett does not write about Marcia Lawes because his article’s real theme is less to do with the “aftershocks” from Francis’ death. His theme is more to do with recycling police propaganda, which stereotype Jamaicans as the personification of “ruthlessness and ruthlessness”: doubly ruthless (4).

Beckett’s article hints at the Guardian’s ongoing connection with the Metropolitan police anti-Jamaican propaganda. The connection goes to back the 1980s when police first tried to link Jamaican Yardies to crack cocaine and gun violence. In 1997, for example, the Guardian set out to justify the disastrous results of such racial profiling, including Lawes’ murder, in an article by Nick Davies: “How the Yardie duped the Yard” (5).

Davies starts off by outlining what he claims was the “chaotic background” which led the Metropolitan police to hire killers as informers. First, “the Yardies who dominate the global sale of crack cocaine … engage in ferocious violence” (6). Second, by 1987, Yardies posed a threat to national security. Third, political correctness and pitiful funding led to “a strategy of chaos”, which left the police powerless to face up to “a ruthless enemy”.

According to Davies this “strategy of chaos” ended when DCS Roy Clark, “one of the most experience detectives in London got his hands on the problem”. Clark wrote a “confidential report, which was a devastating exposé of the [police’s] behaviour”.

Clark made 35 recommendations in his report. But “policy-makers at Scotland Yard” only acted on his chief point, the setting up of the National Drug Related Violence Intelligence Unit (NDRVIU).

Opened in August 1993, NDRVIU aimed to confront the Yardie threat. Alas starved of “power and leadership”, NDRVIU soon ran into trouble.

It is Davies thesis that after NDRVIU “opened”, lack of “power and leadership” led the police to bend the law by hiring killers, such as Delroy Denton, as informers.

Davies’ cause and effect thesis is believable only if readers accept his chain of events as right.

An alternative chain of events runs thus. In the 1980s, as a pretext for setting up an anti-black unit, the Metropolitan police imported from America a link between crack cocaine, crime and black people.

In April 1989, the Association of Chief Police of Officers invited Robert Stutman, chief of New York Drug Enforcement Agency, to speak at its conference (Small 1995:401).

Stutman made two “apocalyptic warnings” about crack cocaine. He warned ACPO, “I will personally guarantee you that, two years from now, you will have a serious crack problem” (7).

Stutman’s other warning concerned the findings of what he said was a soon to be published report. These findings he said would show three-quarter of people who try crack get hooked after three tries (ISDD: 1989).

Both warnings were wrong. First, according to the Home Office, “in 1993 police seized 2.8kg [of crack], nearly double the figures for the previous year” (Shapiro 1994:13). Second, on July 27 1989, the Independent revealed the report to which Stutman referred did not exist.

Nonetheless, at Scotland Yard, Stutman warnings reinforced race based policing. Yardies, police-speak for Jamaicans, were the target of various strategies. One was to set up a “Yardie Squad” (Small 1995:393). Another was to recruit informers to infiltrate so-called Yardie gangs. These informers were recruited by SO10, the section of the Metropolitan police that handles informants.

As well as Delroy Denton, the other informers who Davies says committed crimes while on police payroll were Eaton Green and Andrew Gold. Their role as informers featured in “The Infiltrators”, a book written by two detectives, Etienne and Maynard. They renamed Eaton Green “Aldridge Clarke” and Andrew Gold “Skank”. Etienne was seconded to SO10 to chaperon Gold.

Like Davies, Etienne and Maynard claim SO10 began recruiting Yardie informers “once the NDRVIU was up and running” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:107). However by cross-referencing dates provided by Davies, Etienne and Maynard it becomes clear that SO10 recruited Green and Gold before NDRVIU opened in August 1993.

Eaton Green was “the first true Yardie ever” to become a police informer (Etienne and Maynard 2001:108). Green was on the run from the law in Jamaica when he settled in Brixton in February 1991. Constable Steve Barker arrested him in May. Barker knew Green was an illegal immigrant, a fugitive who sold crack cocaine and carried firearms in Brixton (8). Yet after his arrest, S010 recruited Green. And set him free to carry on his criminal activities, sometimes helped by the Barker.

In March 1993, for example, Barker knowingly allowed Green to bring Cecil Thompson and Rohan ‘Bumpy’ Thompson into Britain from Jamaica unlawfully. The trio then went on to robbed 150 people at gunpoint at a blues dance in Nottingham on May 30 1993 (9).

Green was not the only one to bring known criminals into the country. According to Davies, “on a trip to Jamaica in the summer of 1993”, someone “introduced a professional man” to Steve Barker. It turned out that the man had worked as a police informer in America. What’s more, Yardies “respected” him. SO10 recruited him, “code-named him Andrew Gold” and bought him to London to infiltrate and inform on local Yardies.

Davies’ story about how S010 recruited Gold, his arrival in Britain and the length of his stay is at odds with Etienne’s version of the same events. Etienne claims: “A team of senior officers from Scotland Yard travelled to Kingston, Jamaica, with the expressed intention of recruiting active Yardie gangsters to work as informants in London” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:109). In other words, Gold’s recruitment was not as casual as Davies tries to make it look.

As regard the date of his arrival, Davies claims Gold returned to Jamaica after “four months …in January 1994”. Gold, therefore, would have had to arrive in Britain in August 1993. Etienne contradicts Davies on this point.

Etienne claims he started a six-week secondment to SO10 “a month before Skank [Gold] arrived in the country” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:110). SO10 assigned Etienne to get Gold familiar with London.

In September, he met Gold at Heathrow airport (Etienne and Maynard 2001:116). In October, Etienne’s boss complained to him that his six-week secondment had mushroomed into “three months!” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:130).

By mid-November: “After two and a half months Skank [Gold] had found his feet” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:133).

Crucially, Etienne then claims “By May I had not spoken to Skank [Gold] for three months” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:134).

Given that Gold, Skank, entered Britain in September and he was still going to “a weekly debriefing session at Scotland Yard with his handler” in May, he could not have returned to Jamaica in January 1994 as Davies claims (5).

This leaves the question of whether SO10 recruited Gold and brought him to Britain in 1992 or 1993. Etienne is especially helpful on this point. At the end of May, the very same month in which he spoke to Gold for the first time in three months, the Eaton Green trio robbed the blues dance in Nottingham (Etienne and Maynard 2001:135-136). The robbery took place in May 1993 (8).

Therefore, the informer Davies calls “Andrew Gold” and Etienne calls “Skank”, one and the same person, SO10 recruited him and bought him to Britain in 1992. That is one year before Clark signed his report on July 6 1993 and NDRVIU opened in August 1993.

Davies’ chain of events would therefore seem to be fictional. Political correctness and pitiful funding did not lead to “a strategy of chaos” which Roy Clark remedied by recommending setting up NDRVIU. More accurately, institutional racism led to racial profiling becoming the cornerstone of policing.

The upshot was a police force, which Davies claims was so poor it had to use a pub as offices, had money to send “a team of senior officers” to Jamaica. From where they recruited criminals recommended to them by “Clarke [Green] and other informants” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:106).

On his arrival from Jamaica, police housed Gold in a luxury hotel. They gave him a Golf Gti and mobile phone. The bills for them, the police paid plus other living expenses such as food, wine, clothes, and the rent of a dockland flat, which cost £550 per week. Plus he received “ a lifestyle payment of £500 per week” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:116,118,133).

Eaton Green also enjoyed police largess: “he regularly received fees of £1,000 a time” (Etienne and Maynard 2001:108).

By contrast, black people suffered the “aftershocks” from the Metropolitan police infiltrating killers and crack cocaine dealers into their communities. In particular, like Marcia Lawes, the 150 people robbed by Green and Co were black.

Marcia Lawes’ murder by Denton might just be one of a number of innocent black people gun down by gunmen on police payroll.

The “aftershocks” from such murders left victims’ family struggling to get to the truth and compensation from the police. For example, the Metropolitan police have steadfastly refused Lawes’ family compensation that would be used to care for her two young children (10).

If the Guardian focuses more on the “aftershocks” caused by the actions of police paid killers and crack dealers rather than recycling anti-Jamaican propaganda, there will be less grieving black families and friends and drugs in communities such as Brixton and Woolwich.


Etienne, Philip and Maynard Martin (2001) “The Infiltrator” Penguin Books

Small, Geoff (1995) “Ruthless: the global rise of the Yardies” Warner Books

Shapiro, Harry (1994) “The Crack Report” Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence


(1) Beckett, Andy (11/03/04) “Death in Woolwich” The Guardian

(2) Vasagar, J and Hopkins, N (01/08/00) “Yardie war moves to the streets” The Guardian

(3) Muir, Hugh (04/04/97) “Victim’s family attacks use of Yardie informers” The Daily Telegraph

(4) Muir, Hugh (20/09/03) “Police to build on success in black on black crime initiative” The Guardian

(5) Davies, Nick (3/02/97) “How the Yardies duped the Yard” The Guardian

(6) Davies, Nick (03/02/97) “Police Yardie scandal” The Guardian

(7) Bose, Mihir (13/08/90) Nightmare that never happened” The Daily Mail

(8) Davies, Nick (16/03/99) “Police damned over Yardies” The Guardian

(9) The Guardian (16/07/99) “Police face no charges over Yardie informer who killed”

(10) Dodd, Vikram (24/10/02) “Murder victim’s family to sue police” The Guardian


Blink (24/10/02) “Marcia Lawes family can now seek compensation”

winston smith © blaqfair 1984