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March 15th, 2005
‘Crime Capital: Paul Ferris fixed it for the gay burglar who raided Police HQ: Fettesgate’

THE cops were in big trouble.Their HQ at Fettes had been burgled.

Worse, the thief had taken highly sensitive files and documents. How were they going to face the public?

They decided to try to tough it out. Fat chance. The burglar, Derek Donaldson, was seeking advice from someone who was no friend to the cops.

Donaldson was a conman and gay – a bad combination since his crimes got him into jail where he was confronted with would-be gay-bashers.

In Shotts Prison, he was getting a hell of a time before fellow inmate Paul Ferris, former lieutenant of Glasgow Godfather Arthur Thompson, stepped in to stop the bullies.

Now, out of the blue in 1992, Donaldson contacted Ferris. He needed advice about some files.

He told Ferris: ‘I just brought some of the stuff, Paul. I think I’m in big trouble.’

Ferris scanned the material file by file. There were intimate details about a range of judges who sat in courts in and around Edinburgh.

It seemed some of these judges were gay and had been followed by cops when they went to gay parties.

Another file, named Operation Ulysses, targeted IRA supporters in Scotland and lawyers were named as having donated funds.

There were surveillance records of known UDA supporters and photographs of them visiting Belfast and being in the company of top UDA men.

Derek Donaldson was sitting on a goldmine or his death certificate – it depended on how he played it.

‘How the hell did you get this stuff?’ Ferris asked.Donaldson explained he’d had a long-term affair with a high- ranking married cop in Edinburgh.

The cop’s wife had found out and he’d broken off with Donaldson.

In a jealous rage, the forlorn lover had decided to break into the police HQ at Fettes to teach him a lesson. But he had stumbled on to high-risk material and now he was in big trouble.

‘Copy the lot,’ said Ferris. ‘Offer it out to the top people in Edinburgh. That’s point one.

‘Point two is lose the papers. Keep them secure as a bit of insurance but have sod all in your possession.

‘Point three is go to the media.

Mention the gay judges thing but f ** k all about the IRA and UDA supporters.

That’s too sensitive.

‘One way or another, the cops are going to find you.

‘You don’t want anything nasty going down. The best way is to speak out.’

Donaldson followed Ferris’s advice. All the major players in Edinburgh have photocopies of some or all of the files.

They paid well and it was worth every penny in getting certain cops off their backs.

Many have never been to jail since.


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IRA wanted me as their barber

FORMER hood Paul Ferris has sensationally revealed how he was once recruited
by an IRA terrorist — to be his HAIRDRESSER.

Ferris had just arrived in a tough English nick on firearms charges when he
was ordered to meet paramilitary ‘Mr Fixit’ Michael Gallagher in the
prison’s exercise yard.

But he was stunned to learn grey-haired Gallagher — on remand for the 1994
Heathrow Airport bomb bid — wanted him to smuggle hair dye into the prison.

MICHAEL GALLAGHER
And he was even more surprised when the IRA man said he wanted Ferris to apply
his favoured colour — bright orange.

 

Amazingly, he pulled off the stunt, despite sparking a full-scale alert at the
high-security jail.

Last night Ferris, 46, joked: “I can technically lay claim to being someone
who’s actually ‘dyed’ for The Cause.”

Glasgow-born
Ferris — who had no connection to the IRA — had just been banged up in
Belmarsh Prison, south-east London, when he had his first brush with the
feared terror group in May 1997.

He was awaiting trial for firearms and explosives charges after being snared
in a two-year MI5 sting.

Fellow Glaswegian Gallagher, now 67 — a high-ranking member of the IRA in
Scotland — was also on remand at Belmarsh.

He had been arrested over the failed mortar raid on Heathrow three years
earlier — accused of providing a car for the Provos who slipped into Britain
for the attack.

Gallagher had also rented a garage used as a bomb factory by the men who fired
four mortars on to the runway.

But he was desperate to avoid a conviction — and believed dyeing his hair back
to the same bright colour he’d sported on the outside would help his case.

Ferris explained: “I was informed by another prisoner that a member of the IRA
wanted to speak to me in the exercise yard.

“I thought ‘Why are they interested in me? I’m not connected to them and never
have been’.”

Undeterred, Ferris put his name down for prison exercise and, once in the
yard, bumped into the softly-spoken Gallagher.

He said: “I walked around not knowing who or what I was going to meet when
a wee guy with grey hair started walking with me.

“He said ‘Hello Paul’ in a Scottish accent so I said ‘Hello’ back and he
introduced himself as Michael.

HM Belmarsh prison
“I made small talk as I waited for the IRA to come and see me. But after two
or three laps I said ‘Look mate. I’m waiting to meet people. It’s better we
separate’.

“To my surprise he said, ‘I know. It’s me. I asked to speak to you’.

“He said, ‘I want some hair dye as I’m on trial shortly and need to get my
hair colour back to what it was before my arrest’.”

One-time criminal mastermind Ferris was doubtful of smuggling a box of dye
into the prison, before hitting on an answer — heavy duty woollen
hill-walking socks.

He told his fellow con how someone on the outside could use the material to
absorb the dye and leave it to dry undetected.

The colouring could then be secretly extracted later by soaking the wool in
water.

So Gallagher arranged for a contact to steep a pair of the socks and send them
in — but Ferris was in for a shock when he saw the shade.

He said: “I was in Mickey’s cell and he produced two pairs of dark coloured
socks containing the dye.

“Time was of the essence so I sat him down on the chair, filled the sink with
tepid water and just dipped a sock into the water and started rubbing it on
his hair.

“Mickey had a head of grey hair and I never asked him what his natural
colour was. He was head first in the sink when the water turned orange, the
same colour as a fluorescent high visibility jacket.

 

“I thought for a second and asked Mickey what colour his hair dye was and he
replied ‘It’s OK, my wife got me it and it’s what I used before I was
arrested’.

“I rubbed the sock into his hair thinking ‘This can’t be right’. The sink was
bright orange — as was Gallagher’s hair — but I went on and did his fringe
and eyebrows. I genuinely thought he would go absolutely mental.

“But to my shock he stood up, looked in the mirror and said ‘Spot on Paul.
Thanks mate’ — and shook my bright orange hand.”

However, Gallagher’s new barnet did not go unnoticed when he and Ferris turned
up for a lags’ pool competition later that day.

Ferris said: “Gallagher had a head of bright fluorescent ginger hair so when
he approached the desk for his pool cue, the screw did a double take.

“Seconds later, an alarm bell sounded and the screws charged into our block
shouting ‘Lock up your doors — NOW!’”

Ultimately, Gallagher’s disguise didn’t work — and he was caged for 20 years
at Woolwich Crown Court in February 1998.

But Ferris added: “They never did find out how Mickey got his hands on the
dye.

“It was one of the funniest episodes of my time behind bars and I will never
forget it.”

Ferris had been arrested by armed police after he was seen carrying a
cardboard box full of weapons from the London address of a self-confessed
gun dealer.

But reformed Ferris has now turned his life around and lives in the Ayrshire
countryside with his devoted wife Carolyn, 31, and their family.

He agreed to speak out about his prison experiences as he battles to establish
a rehabilitation programme for offenders.

PAUL Ferris was not paid for this interview.

irinanelson@the-sun.co.uk


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