Ali Dizaei is the most senior Scotland Yard officer to be convicted of a serious crime since 1977, when two Met Commanders were found guilty of accepting bribes from Soho pornographers – a saga which was played out in the pages of several red-top Sunday newspapers.
In February 1972, the Sunday Mirror reported that Commander Kenneth Drury then head of the Flying Squad, had spent a holiday in Cyprus with a notorious Soho businessman and porn baron called Jimmy Humphreys. Drury’s rather weak excuse was that the pair had been looking for the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, and that he had been paying Humphreys as an informant.
His superiors were not convinced, and he was suspended and later resigned. Humphreys also took exception to being depicted as a snitch, and promptly contacted the News of the World to tell them that he had never accepted money from Drury or given him any information in exchange – the police officer had simply come to Cyprus to be lavishly pampered.
Two months later, the Met’s newly-established Anti-Corruption Squad uncovered evidence that Wallace “Wally” Virgo, a CID area commander, had been accepting weekly payoffs from Soho pornographers from whom he had also extorted bribes totalling at least £13,000. They believed he had been working in collaboration with Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Moody, the operational head of the Obscene Publications Squad.
The sordid nature of the men’s actions, combined with their seniority in the force, shocked a British public already accustomed to police scandals, and the episode has since been viewed as one of the lowest moments in the history of the CID. Drury was sentenced to eight years in prison and Virgo and Moody to 12, although Virgo’s conviction was later quashed on appeal.