Original Interview given to Glasgow Gangland crime researcher
When you wrote the book did you think it would ever lead to a movie?
When Reg and I wrote the Ferris Conspiracy the furthest thing from my mind at that stage was that a movie would have been made. My sole focus within the book was to expose certain police officers and their criminal partners that needed exposed. My views at that time of writing was to address the balance of media reports within the Daily Record, Sunday Mail and the Herald who wrote a whole catalogue of police led propaganda, malicious falsehoods and downright lies just because I was in prison serving a 10 year sentence and in the eyes of the law I did not have a character to defend in law as such.
Reg McKay called it “Open Season” by the media outlets and because of this (among many other issues) I agreed to write the book that is now made into a feature film. Reg was wise enough to have kept all the visual rights within the contract to have allowed us to retain the moral rights to any proposed docudrama’s or films that may or may not arise from the Ferris Conspiracy. In reality all of this would not have happened if it was not for Reg McKay and people should remember that.
How did you feel when the proposal was first put to you about the book being turned into a movie? Was it a hard decision to make?
When I was initially asked for permission to make the book into a film my first thoughts were how much police corruption would they be prepared to show? As we are all too aware of the violence, double dealings and deaths within the book and perhaps now is the right time to focus on the police and put them under the spotlight for once as no one as yet has had the courage to look into the allegation nor have any media outlets reviewed the book out with the blood and gore. There needs to be a balance or at least an open debate on ALL the allegations made against officers of Strathclyde police. People talk about a rogue cop, a rotten apple, wrongdoing and so on. I openly call them rouge cops, a rotten orchard and blatant corruption and perhaps when the movie is shown to the general public they might just want to ask – Do these allegations of police corruption have any substance? Why has no one within the force that has been the subject of my allegation not stopped the book from being published and Reg and I up in front of a judge? So for me personally agreeing to the film was not a hard decision at all. It was just another door to open up on what life was really like on the streets and the biggest gangsters of all were certain police officers who offered immunity of prosecution to their criminal partners. Those same police officers know who they are and most importantly so do we.
How much of an input did you have in the script and choosing the cast?
With regards to the initial script for the movie being developed by Ray Burdis I did have some discussions with him in relation to contents within the script that needed to be reviewed. Ray took on board some feedback although ultimately it was his script and I respected Ray’s position to nail the main issues that needed airing. Wilf Pine was also instrumental in shaping up the script although to be perfectly honest Ray had 95% of the threads done in such a way it was as though we had known each other for many years.
When Ray started to collaborate with Carnaby films the main thing after resolving the script was to start casting for certain main roles in which certain actors were identified. I had no say in who could play what part nor did I have anything to do with the filming with the exception of attending London on two separate occasions to do with the prison scenes and some of the other ones that were shot inside an old London pub. It was all a bit surreal at the time and still is when I think back to certain scenes that were shown to me. The one that sticks out most is when the police raid the Thompson holiday home on the Isle of Bute. I broke out in a sweat watching it and the anger came flooding back as who the hell is going to let the police try to kill them? Then fabricate a situation in front of my pregnant girlfriend by planting drugs on me? What kind of man sits back and takes that? Not me that’s for sure.
The movie being based on true events, how realistic is it?
The movie is just that, it’s a movie. It’s not a documentary nor is it solely based on The Ferris Conspiracy. Ray has created events that are as realistic as they come. Did those incidents happen? I think that’s a matter for the audience much like a jury to accept or deny some, part, or all. For me personally understanding the film industry and talking to experts in the field who informed me that there must be a start, middle and end or as some others eloquently put it, there must be a realistic thread running throughout the movie otherwise the audience cannot follow the plot.
I have to be honest and admit there is some artistic licence involved as there was no way to cram 40 odd years of anyone’s life into just over an hour of film. That being said there are more true real life events in the film that some others would love to claim they are artistic licence when sometimes facts remain harder to believe than fiction. Anyone who has read the Ferris Conspiracy will see the relevant scenes from the book because they were and always will be part of my life that cannot be changed and much like anything else in the Glasgow goldfish bowl, you will have some who like it and some who don’t. I do hope however that it will be judged first and foremost as a film that will provoke debates back in line with why has nothing been done in relation the police corruption? Who are protecting them? Senior police? The Crown Office, Politician’s? Perhaps one day something will be done and hold the ones responsible to account for their action of corruption whilst in a public office.
We noticed that Tam Bagan is not in the cast, can you tell us anything about why he has been left out?
There are some names changed within the film that I had no control over suck as the Welsh family.
There is one name that was kept off the script and that was Tam Bagan because Tam did not want anything to do with books, films or anything like that as he has moved on and is happily married. I fully respected Tam’s position although he is still in the movie he is not however called Tam Bagan.
Tam did offer me words of advice such as: “Don’t miss the opportunity to expose the police and make sure everyone knows just how much we knew about Thompson and McGraw who worked hand in hand with the police.”
Tam Bagan will not be disappointed with the film as we capture all of that and a bit more.
Being brought up in Glasgow a lot of us lose close friends to violent deaths, how did it make you feel seeing the murder of Bobby and Joe replayed on the big screen?
I was saddened to see a short and very brief part of the film when my two mates Bobby and Joe were killed. It was like the same feeling when I was first informed by my lawyer whilst in the segregation unit at Barlinnie prison. It was a numbing experience and although it was perhaps easier to write about the events in the book, seeing it is a whole different thing altogether. I still believe that the police were involved in some way in their deaths and since the film started to take shape the very same police force had put more effort into contacting the Glover and Hanlon families about trying to get the film banned than they did during the murder investigations, why was that you might ask?
The Ferris Conspiracy had a lot about police corruption and police informants; do you feel these issues have been covered accurately enough in the movie?
These issues of Police corruption and issuing licenses to criminals to operate without fear of going to jail is fully exposed within the film. There was not enough timescale to put it all in just like cramming 40 years into a film. The main elements of police corruption are in it although not all are. As for accuracy in the film on these matters? It’s the same scenario with regards to what people want to believe. I have audio recordings of two Strathclyde police officers talking about having me killed, planted with drugs and threatening the life of an old associate by telling him that he will go missing on a fishing trip! This is not in the film although it will feature in some other project that focuses solely on the corrupt practices of some serving police officers within Strathclyde. I would also like to say that not all police officers are corrupt, there are however some who think they are above the law and now retired. You only have to look at the Doyle mass murder case in the early 80’s to see the level of police corruption as a standalone issue from my allegation to warrant an in-depth investigation into these allegations. An independent body set up to investigate the police is now more of a reality than it was years ago. As it stands right now with the police having powers to investigate themselves is a bit like asking Al Capone to investigate the Mafia is the way I see it at present. The police corruption shown within the film will give the flavour of what took place.
Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City council refused you permission to film scenes of the movie in Glasgow; can you give us your honest opinion as to why they refused this request?
Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City council refused Carnaby to film in the city because of the police corruption within the film and will show the public just exactly what went on. The police and City Councillors wanted advance copies of the film script before they made that decision to refuse Carnaby to start filming. My honest opinion is that after both police and council read the script they bottled it as they do not want decent law-abiding folk of Glasgow to see what has being going on and perhaps put Carnaby off making the film in the first place. That’s my honest opinion and now we want to know why they refused Carnaby the right to film in the same city near the same time that Zombies were being filmed in George Square! If it was not so funny it would be deadly serious.
Is the movie going to be shown in Cinemas or is it going straight to DVD? If shown in Cinemas can you tell us were the premiers will be held and which date.
All feature films are shown in cinemas and are done so through a distribution network. My understanding is that after it is shown in the cinemas the natural course is to go direct to DVD. That is my understanding and perhaps is a question best placed to Cranaby. There was a provisional date of release for August 1st that has been changed although I do believe it now to be nearer the end of August or beginning of September this year.
We heard a rumour that you will be providing your own security for a premier if held in Glasgow, can you tell us if there is any truth in that?
I have connections with many security firms and if the need arises to lawfully employ private security for the premier then it’s something we will look into as the police won’t be there to do it as they will want paid. Carnaby will not pay to hire police nor would I so the sensible option is to have private security in place if the need arises.
Is there anything new happening in your life that you can give us a heads up with? Any new business ventures, books, movies in the pipeline or just a few words for our members even?
I am still involved in trying to get the Redemption project established in Scotland to deal with repeat offenders. No new books as a mark of respect to Reg McKay. There is another documentary coming out that will focus on the police audio tapes and police corruption in general.
To the people who read up in glasgowgangland.com no doubt will have their eyes opened to what really goes on in this city. To the people who run and administer the site – well done and thanks for the opportunity to have my say like you have done with many others.