Pubdate: Sun, 19 May 2002
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 The Observer
Authors: Tony Thompson, Martin Bright


They Made Fortunes, Became Informers, Then, From Behind Bars, Did They 
Hatch A Plan To Taint Police As Corrupt?

They were two glamorous grandmothers living dangerous double lives.

Evelyn Fleckney, petite, blonde and highly flirtatious, and Diane Morris, 
tall, busty and prone to violent outbursts, were two of Britain's most 
successful drug dealers, selling millions of pounds worth of cocaine, 
heroin and ecstasy and using the money to sustain their extravagant 
lifestyles. They were feared and respected throughout the underworld and 
trusted by members of some of south London's most notorious criminal families.

But, unknown to even their friends and families, both Morris and Fleckney 
were police informants, passing on details of the criminal activities of 
those around them in order to claim reward money and also as 'insurance', 
should they themselves ever end up before the courts.

The women, both in their late forties, are now serving prison terms. But an 
Observer investigation can reveal that the two drug baronesses are at the 
centre of a top-level Scotland Yard inquiry after it was suspected they had 
hatched an elaborate plan to get their sentences reduced by making false 
allegations of corruption against a serving policeman.

The investigation threatens to rock the credibility of the Metropolitan 
Police's elite anti-corruption squad - which was working with the women - 
and could even see several officers convicted of drugs-related crimes walk 
free from prison.

Fleckney, who dubbed herself 'the chairman of the board', controlled her 
multi-million-pound drugs empire from her plush four-bedroom house in 
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and boasted of having access to huge hoards of 
drugs. She was once heard to say: 'There are not many drug dealers like me. 
Go and find another bird that can get what I can get. I could have a 
million pills if I wanted.' To reduce the risk of arrest, she never handled 
the drugs herself but instead kept them stashed in isolated country hideaways.

Morris became involved in drug trafficking through her husband, Ray. They 
became notorious around the Tooting, south London, area for always 
collecting any money owing to them. It would usually be Diane who struck 
out first. In one attack she used a baseball bat and CS gas on a teenager 
who allegedly owed her money.

When Ray was jailed in 1991, Diane took over the business completely and 
found herself making thousands of pounds each week. She has a reputation 
for being fearless and was once convicted of assaulting an off-duty police 
officer after dragging him out of his car and beating him unconscious.

The two women had never worked together but knew of each other by 
reputation. They met for the first time in April 1998 in Holloway prison. 
Morris had been there for almost a year and Fleckney had just arrived after 
the end of her court case. During their trials, neither had made any 
allegations of police corruption but Fleckney had alleged she was having an 
affair with a police officer.

Soon after arriving at Holloway she was visited by officers from the 
anti-corruption branch, CIB3, and asked if she had any information about 
corrupt activities stemming from the affair. Fleckney claims she was 
offered a substantial reduction in her sentence in return for testifying 
against a number of officers.

After learning that Morris had also been an informant, Fleckney shared 
details of her offer from CIB3. Officers are investigating whether Morris 
decided to make allegations against her own handler, detective constable 
Jeff May, in the hope of having her own sentence reduced. If so, she could 
have asked Fleckney to corroborate her claims. Within days, Fleckney had 
made a statement to CIB3 claiming she had bought heroin from May. Soon 
after wards, Morris was visited by CIB3 officers and alleged that she had 
bought drugs from May and that he had tipped her off about a raid on her 
home, giving her time to remove all drugs from the premises. The two women 
were moved to separate locations so their individual accounts would not be 
contaminated. DC May was arrested and suspended from duty.

But as the investigation continued, cracks in the stories began to appear. 
Morris had claimed that when police raided her house looking for drugs, she 
told them May had tipped her off. When the officers concerned were 
questioned, they said Morris never mentioned the name of the officer who 
tipped her off and someone other than May was believed to be responsible.

Fleckney also admitted she did not know the identity of the man who had 
allegedly sold her heroin and concluded it might have been May only after 
speaking to Morris. The description she gave officers did not match May 
other than the fact he had a ponytail - a detail passed on to her by Morris.

Some detectives working on the case began to suspect Morris had invented 
all her claims against May to get her sentence reduced. They believed she 
had persuaded Fleckney to corroborate her story by inventing a heroin sale 
from May.

These suspicions were confirmed when, shortly afterwards, prison 
authorities intercepted secret letters between Morris and Fleckney which 
seem to show them agreeing to support one another's stories. Knowing they 
were banned from contacting one another, the women wrote via a third party. 
In one letter the go-between writes: 'Remember your friend!!! She's here. 
Remember the talk you both had in the special clinic!!! Well she stuck to 
the same story, she ain't changed it, even though she's been nicked for it 
and has to go back to court, she's still sticking to what was said in 
special clinic OK!!'

Investigators believe this is a reference to the fact that because Fleckney 
made an admission of selling drugs to May, she had to go to court and 
receive a sentence for it.

May was later reinstated but the strain of the investigation left him 
clinically depressed and he retired on grounds of ill health. He is suing 
the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest. A spokeswoman for Scotland 
Yard confirmed that an official complaint was received from May and that an 
investigating officer had been appointed to the case. 'Because the 
investigation is now under way, we are unable to make any comment at the 
present time,' she said.

May has also made a complaint against the Met after learning that the 
evidence that Morris was lying had been available to CIB3 before he was 
arrested. The investigation into his complaint has major implications for 
CIB3 as Fleckney was the key witness in a subsequent trial which saw five 
police officers convicted of drugs-related offences. The officers concerned 
were unaware of the case against May and believe Fleckney's credibility 
could have been severely damaged if it could have been shown that she had 
fabricated evidence.

Fleckney appealed against the length of her sentence and had it reduced 
from 15 to eight years after a senior officer from CIB3 made submissions in 
closed court. She is set to go free in a matter of weeks.

The top-level probe comes amid renewed calls for an independent inquiry 
into the work of CIB3 by MPs and a member of the House of Lords who have 
raised concerns about tactics used by the squad to secure convictions.
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