In the news: Reggie Kray: Favourite gangster could make his greatest getaway

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The Independent Online
IT was revealed yesterday that according to a confidential parole board report, the release from prison of Reg Kray now constitutes a "minimal risk" in the opinion of psychiatrists who have interviewed him.

Kray, 64, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 30 years in 1969 for the murder of Jack "The Hat" McVitie and taking into account time served before sentence, the 30 years are due to elapse in May. Disclosure of the report will provide further ammunition for those who have lobbied for some years for his early release.

In recent years Kray has shown himself to be far from shy of publicity and some believe that it is only his continued fondness for the limelight that has kept him in prison for so long. Only last June, he was given seven days' solitary confinement after calling Talk Radio to complain about the 12-year sentence received by his brother Charlie for involvement in a pounds 39m drug deal.

In the words of his lawyer, Trevor Linn, Kray "regrets the taking of life per se, he regrets the effect on those persons close to the victim, but he has less feeling for the victim himself - a gangster whom he believed was out to kill him. Allied to a disavowal of his former way of life ... this is an honest and, above all, genuine expression of remorse."

"I have got no regrets," Kray told The Independent in March 1995. "The violence we used was against people from our own criminal culture." This is the argument which is frequently used by his apologists, but the truth is that the Krays' intimidatory techniques had almost succeeded in putting them beyond the reach of the law.

And whether McVitie was a villain or not, his murder was a particularly horrific affair. The victim was held from behind by Ron Kray, who urged his twin brother, "Kill him, Reg. Do him". Reg plunged a carving knife into McVitie's face below the eye. After further butchering he was left impaled to the floor through the throat.

In August last year, Kray was moved from Maidstone Prison to Wayland, a category C jail in Norfolk, which would seem to suggest that parole could follow in a couple of years. According to the leaked report, Kray plans to live with his new wife and his friends in a country house in Norfolk, where he intends to run a recording studio.

Trevor Turner, a consultant psychiatrist at Homerton hospital in east London, is quoted as saying that: "His future plans with regard to writing and the music industry may have a somewhat unrealistic quality, reflecting more his role as an icon than particular abilities, but he did not hold them with any specific conviction, accepting without rancour that he might have to rely on other forms of financial support, for example social security."

Whether Kray is really in need of social security funds is open to some conjecture considering the substantial sums of money he has made during his prison career, beginning in 1988 with the publication of Our Story, the twins' autobiography, for which they were said to have received a pounds 100,000 advance. Since then the royalties have also rolled in from Reg's subsequent solo works, which include Reg Kray's Book of Slang (a rumoured pounds 75,000 advance) and his own autobiography, Born Fighter.

Then there was the film, The Krays, for which the twins' proceeds have been estimated at anything up to pounds 1m. Other sources of income have been limited edition paintings and T-shirts.

When Kray finally does get out, that old iconic status is unlikely to have lost its money-making appeal. Expect REG IS OUT T-shirts to be coming your way soon.

Reg's Mr Bountiful

Last February Karl Crompton, who had won the lottery, gave Kray a gift of pounds 100,000 from the pounds 11m jackpot he had won the previous summer. Kray was reported to have spent pounds 72,000 of the money on charity events such as parties for pensioners and days out for sick children.

A poem by Reg called `Free'

I am the freest of the free

I do not recognise the clock

The day or the years

My life is without cares

Because I refuse

To count the days or years

So, I am free

There's no boundaries for me

I am the freest of the free

This is my philosophy.

Friends of Reg

For some years campaigners have sought to secure an early release for Reg Kray. In October 1993 a petition with over 18,000 signatures was handed in at 10 Downing Street demanding parole for both Reg and Ron. Celebrity supporters included Roger Daltrey, Patsy Kensit and Barbara Windsor (pictured). Mike Reid, now Windsor's colleague in EastEnders, suggested at the time that, "Had they remained free, the London of today would be a safer place. During their reign there was no mugging."

Two years later the Sun columnist Garry Bushell berated the then Home Secretary Michael Howard for saying that parole for Kray was out of the question. Bushell was of the opinion that Kray should have been hanged in 1969, but he now considered that keeping him behind bars proved nothing. "He did not kill a kid or a law-abiding citizen. He topped another villain," concluded Bushell. "By our sick liberal standards he has paid for his crime."

Reg's wedding

Kray's first wife, Frances, committed suicide in 1967, two years after their marriage. He met his current wife, Roberta, in Maidstone prison in 1995. An English graduate 25 years his junior, she was working as a freelance media consultant and had been asked to help organise publicity for a video Reg had contributed to about his brother Ron. Their wedding took place in the prison's Church of the Good Shepherd last July and Kray's best man was his fellow inmate, Bradley "Goombah" Allardyce, who is serving twelve years for armed robbery. Kray has said that if he is released he would like to become a father. "I know by studying my body that I am as virile now as I ever was," he commented. "Perhaps it's partly to do with the cold shower I have every morning after I phone Roberta." "Regarding our love life, I have just switched myself off," said Roberta

Reg's chosen epitaph

"Don't weep by my graveside."

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