Two bent London coppers of the 1960s: Norman Pilcher & Victor Kelaher

After noticing that Detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher is listed on the Wikipedia as a living person, I figured it was worth blogging this scumbag and his boss Detective Chief Inspector Victor Kelaher. I don’t want people to forget that Plicher and Kelaher were worse than slime; and it is still worth pointing out they got away with most of the shit they pulled, so much for so called ‘justice’. According to Wikipedia, Pilcher was born in 1936 and so if he isn’t dead yet, he ought to be very soon. And as far as I’m concerned Pilcher deserves to rot in hell.

After a transfer from the Flying Squad to the Drug Squad in 1967, Norman ‘Nobby’ Pilcher became notorious for the vigour with which he pinned possession of drugs charges on pop stars and hippies, and for the dubious methods employed in his undercover operations, which included paying off informers with drugs. As is evident from reports in the alternative press and various histories of that time, it was widely believed that Pilcher was planting the drugs his victims were convicted of possessing. He was the detective who busted John Lennon and thereby got himself immortalised as ‘semolina pilchards’ in the song I Am The Walrus by The Beatles. Pilcher also took particular delight in hounding Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and there are those who believe that this was a significant factor leading to the musician’s death.

Pilcher and his boss finally found themselves in hot water in the early-seventies, when they claimed during the  drug smuggling trial of Basil Sands that this man – who’d been caught red-handed – was innocent, and had been working with the police. After the judge directed the jury to discount any private belief they might have that Kelaher was at the centre of a drug smuggling ring, since this was something that should be addressed at a subsequent trial, Sands got seven years. Thanks to a convenient nervous complaint ‘requiring’ hospital treatment, Kelaher avoided subsequent problems with the Home Office but three junior officers – Pilcher, Detective Constable Nick Prichard and Detective Constable Nigel Lilley – were belatedly brought to trial in September 1973, convicted of perjury and jailed. Sentencing Nobby Pilcher to a four year stretch, Justice Melford Stevenson told the disgraced detective: “You poisoned the wells of criminal justice and set about it deliberately.”

These cases were of considerable interest to the underground press, and publications such as Oz and Friendz ran stories claiming much of the illegal drug trade in London was controlled by bent cops, that there was an extensive network of police spies to enforce this control, and a subsequent huge cover-up by the authorities to prevent the full extent of the corruption around Kelaher being exposed. Friendz in particular alleged there was a close connection between Kelaher and the US Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). It was claimed a Mr Collins of the BNDD was granted diplomatic immunity and bustled back to the United States because he’d been involved in using US government money to set up drug deals with Kelaher. These allegations shed an interesting light on tales of the US authorities hoping to fit-up the Kray twins by involving them in drug running. Incidentally, Customs & Excise had previously caught Kelaher in the Holland Park flat of a prostitute called Mrs Roberts, the former wife of a drug smuggler he’d nicked (Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Roberts), and at the time Kelaher was bestowing expensive jewelry  – including a gold watch – on the woman.

All of this can be found in considerably more detail in The Fall of Scotland Yard by Barry Cox, John Shirley and Martin Short (Penguin 1977) and many other print sources.

And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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21 thoughts on “Two bent London coppers of the 1960s: Norman Pilcher & Victor Kelaher

  1. I.K. says:

    no comment

  2. IK, OK, 1K, 2K and while you’re at it don’t forget to fuck the millennium by doin’ the Banana Split!

  3. Michael K says:

    You lot in London don’t even know you are born, I wouldn’t recommend trying the RUC on for size.

  4. Nice post, I don’t like the old bill, and especially not coppers born the same year as me.

  5. Justifiable homicide?

  6. jim lopez says:

    There are current cops that continue to control much of the narcotics trade in most of the major cities in the world

  7. Gretchen Fetchin, Queen Of The Slime says:

    i remember getting busted in the sixties all too well……

  8. Rodney Rude says:

    And you can’t trust a Queensland copper either – look at the shit they pulled against me!

    I was arrested by Queensland coppers in the mid-1980s after offending the filth during a show. I fought a shed load of expensive court cases defending my right to perform my show to adult audiences. The cops even brought obscenity charges against me in Western Australia, and the case went all the way to a full bench of the Supreme Court. I won all my court cases and all charges against me were quashed. Later, as a consequence of the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987-89), set up to investigate police corruption in the state of Queensland, the copper leading the fit-up against me was jailed for corruption in an unrelated matter. Since then I have performed without incidence throughout Australia.

  9. Cynthia Jarrett says:

    Every day the police are on our backs!

  10. Some people consider me a folk hero, I don’t know why, but then it’s hard to think straight when you’re dead.

  11. Dickie Rock says:

    You can spit on me Dickie, but after reading this you may want to spit on someone in a uniform.

  12. The fit ups go on and on…..

  13. Jack Warner says:

    ‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo, wo’ts goin’ on ‘ere then? You can’t say stuff like this about good old British bobbies! Any more of it and you’ll be fitted-up, erm I mean nicked!

  14. I.K. says:

    KK, Michael K., OK

  15. Joan Webster says:

    This is all very well but it fails to address the issue of patriarchy and how systems constructed by men and controlling those men who challenge the boundaries of the system just goes around in circles. Isn’t it just boys playing at being big boys and isn’t it time we put an end to what Graves said Marduk, the upstart godling, began with his so called New World Order?

  16. I’m tired of tha muthafuckin’ jackin’
    Sweatin’ my gang while I’m chillin’ in tha shackin’
    Shinin’ tha light in my face, and for what
    Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt

  17. Cam ‘ere, you li’l scrote! You’re nicked!

  18. IAN CAMERON says:

    Nice to kinda but not quite stumble across this blogspot. Esp as an ex member of the Up Against the Law Collective (UPAL) and the RELEASE COLLECTIVE – through the ‘Seventies. ‘Course we don’t have any trouble with the fuzz these days oh no!!!

  19. mistertrippy says:

    Hey Ian, wonder if you ever came across my mother who used Release…. She’s the reason I don’t want people to forget what swine like Pilcher did, but then I don’t want people to forget about skunks like PC Frank Pulley either, which is why I included quite a bit about him as background context in a review of Horace Ove’s classic movie “Pressure”:

    And if anyone can tell me anything interesting about another west London cop of that era, Coroner’s Officer PC Peter Weyell, then I’d be very curious to hear it.

    But as you ironically indicate, it is important to remember this shit still goes on today… what justice for Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes, and all the others murdered and beaten and fitted up?

  20. IAN CAMERON says:

    Dunno about your mum – dont mean this disrespectfully – i was at Release from about mid 70’s til 81 or so. Not sure what you mum’s name would be.

  21. IAN CAMERON says:

    Have found your blogspot about your mum but I didn’t cross paths with her during my Release period.