Search

The Chigwell pensioner who became the Kray twins’ PR man

12:37 06 July 2014

Ronnie and Reggie

Ronnie and Reggie's PR manager James Campbell

Archant

It’s been five decades since the Kray twins’ rise to celebrity – and infamy.

Composite picture of the Kray twins Ronnie (left) and Reggie (Picture: PA)Composite picture of the Kray twins Ronnie (left) and Reggie (Picture: PA)

Encompassing the glamour and danger of Swinging Sixties’ London, the gangster brothers are synonymous with the cool edgy East End of nostalgia.

The public’s fascination with them continued even after they were locked up for murder – both being handed life sentences in 1968.

But few people will be aware that one of their first business ideas when they tried to go legitimate was to invent... an egg slicer.

James Campbell, from Chigwell, was asked to come on board as the pair’s PR manager years after they were sent to jail and promote their business interests from inside.

“The first time I went to see them I got a little bit tipsy the night before,” said Scottish-born James, who is now manager of Woodford Green-based band Everafter.

“I was in the music industry and I knew a reporter who was friendly with the Krays. I got asked to go and see them, to look at the business things. I couldn’t believe it when Reggie started writing to me.

“I couldn’t read the letters because they were censored – but I cracked the code.” The 65-year-old travelled to HMP Lewes in East Sussex to meet Reggie.

“I remember I went up the stairs at the prison and thought maybe I would recognise him, then he came up and just said ‘pleased to see you, James’.

“I could see the other visitors and the prisoners going ‘look, there’s Reggie Kray – who’s that sitting next to him?’ I felt so powerful.”

Despite their past in illegal protection rackets, Reggie’s first idea to make money from behind bars was to make a gadget to take the tops off boiled eggs.

“I said that’s a great idea – that’s great,” said James. “Reggie was very 100mph. Ronnie was totally different – laid back.”

Needless to say, it didn’t come off but before long, the brothers were reaping their rewards from book and film deals and writing columns from ­behind bars.

“They made tons of money,” said James. “But they were a bit like Robin Hood. They gave a lot of money away.”

Despite their terrifying past, James said he always told them the truth about their business suggestions.

“I used to tell them ‘no, don’t do that’,” he said.

“They would look you in the eye, and if you looked away, you would be finished.

“I disagreed with them quite a bit – if I wasn’t happy about something, I would say. They trusted me and they respected me.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ilford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ilford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ilford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

12:00
Jack Stevens, matron at the A&E department, tells the Recorder binge drinkers can drain the emergency department's resources

An A&E matron has warned that binge drinkers are “draining resources and expertise” at hospital emergency departments.

Aldborough Hatch Defence Association chairman Ron Jeffries protesting the gravel extraction area moving to Aldborough Hatch Farm. Picture: Ron Jeffries

Proposals to extend a quarry next to a residential area and historic church are to be submitted to Redbridge Council, despite a passionate campaign.

Yesterday, 17:48
Tom Hardy, right in the hat, spotted filming in Wanstead. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA;Vicky Chandler

Oscar nominated actor Tom Hardy has been seen shooting a new BBC period drama in Wanstead, with some fans travelling from Brighton to see the heartthrob.

Yesterday, 14:41
Tube strikes called off

Seven more Tube strikes have been announced today over “basic safety issues”.

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe