Stephen Jory

'Lavender Hill Mob' counterfeiter

Saturday 27 May 2006 00:00
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Stephen Jory, counterfeiter and writer: born London 24 November 1949; married (one son, one daughter); died Stow cum Quy, Cambridgeshire 5 May 2006.

Stephen Jory was Britain's most prolific counterfeiter. Over the years he made and lost fortunes and was what police would describe as an "old school" villain. Born in Hackney in 1949 and brought up in north London, after leaving Owen's grammar school in Islington Jory entered the criminal fraternity, he said, through his "own choice".

He gained notoriety during the 1970s as a pioneer of the fake perfume industry in Britain. Using a business approach to crime, he organised the bottling, packaging and distribution of fake Chanel No 5 in secret factories across London. He bribed a leading perfumer for the recipes to some of the world's most famous scents and, with his cohorts, went on to produce approximately five million bottles of fake perfume. They had even set up a factory in Acapulco in Mexico before they were arrested. In 1985 Jory was jailed for what the newspapers at the time described as a "£300m international perfume fraud".

After several spells in prison for perfume offences, Jory moved up the criminal ladder and began to make money, literally. He bought a printing press and set about creating a clandestine mint in the garage of a large house in a secluded part of Essex. After initial problems (the watermark of the Queen on the first batch of notes appeared to show her with a beard), the operation became extremely successful.

Jory and his accomplices had already flooded Britain with fakes when in 1998 the police caught the gang whom they had nicknamed the "Lavender Hill Mob". Although Jory admitted to a charge of having produced £50m-worth of counterfeit £20 notes, the real figure is probably much higher - his notes were so convincing that they fooled UV counterfeit detectors and in some places were redistributed through the banking system. After his incarceration, the Bank of England was forced to change the design of the twenty-pound note in order to add extra security features.

Whilst on remand at HMP Winchester, Jory began writing an autobiography, which was published first as Funny Money in 2002 and in paperback in 2005 as Loadsamoney: the true story of the world's largest ever counterfeiting ring. It was not his first book - during a previous spell in prison he had written a novel called Supergrass, which he printed through his own Pirate Publications.

At the time of his death, he was working on a novel about his exploits in fake perfume, to be entitled "The Perfume Pirate" and had just finished writing a film script based on Funny Money.

I met Stephen Jory while I was making the Channel 4 programme Loadsamoney, part of a series called "Behind the Crime" broadcast in 2004. Steve came across as a lovable rogue and although he often lived outside the law, even the police officers I interviewed for the programme had a grudging respect for his abilities. He doted on his children and had an amusing anecdote for every occasion.

Tom Willis

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