The Filth: The Explosive Inside Story of Scotland Yard's Top Undercover Cop

The Filth: The Explosive Inside Story of Scotland Yard's Top Undercover Cop

by Duncan MacLaughlin, William Hall


$14.99 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, December 12


For the first time ever, a Metropolitan Police undercover detective has broken ranks to reveal the stark reality of life in the police force today.

Duncan MacLaughlin was one of New Scotland Yard's elite. In a career spanning more than two decades he served in both the Central Drug Squad and the Regional Crime Squad - Britain's equivalent of the FBI. Trained in in SAS covert techniques, his expertise lay in money laundering and undercover surveillance.

Infamous cases in which he was involved include the investigation of Kenneth Noye, the pursuit of kidnap victim Stephanie Slater, the murder of PC Keith Blakelock and Operation Emerge - the seizure of a tonne of cocaine, tracked from South America. He and his colleagues penetrated international drug cartels and nailed the ruthless barons who controlled them.

Filled with black humour, gritty slang and investigative detail that only an ex-copper could reveal, MacLaughlin's story is a riveting insight into the world of serious crime that is both thrilling and frightening.

With shocking behind-the-scenes stories that you'll never read in the newspapers or see on Crimewatch, The Filth is the true story about working on the dark side of the streets.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786080387
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Publication date: 08/09/2018
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.74(d)

Read an Excerpt



Maybe I got it from my father. Not my real one, because I never knew who he was. But the Action Man father who was a true hero, won the George Medal for it and was an abiding influence on my life from the moment I came into his.

Actually, I came into the world as a Celt and ended up a Cockney. This may sound illogical, as Mr Spock would say, but that's the way it happened. I was born on 23 March 1960 in the London Hospital in the East End, within the sound of Bow Bells, which makes me a true Cockney by birth. But my natural mother, Anastasia Kelly, already had children back home in Ireland. And abortion being a bit of a taboo subject in the Emerald Isle, she came over to Britain so that I could be delivered – and farmed out. Within eight weeks of my first yell I had a new mum, Margaret MacLaughlin, who together with her husband Rick was later to adopt me.

So instead of County Waterford my first home turned out to be in Rochester, Kent, close to the Chatham Naval Dockyard where my new dad was serving in the medical branch of the Royal Navy.

My first real memory was being taken up to London at the age of two to collect baby Amanda from an adoption agency. She was a tiny dark-haired bundle dressed all in white, and we brought her home in the battered old family car with a mixture of curiosity and pride. I had a little sister! In truth, though I never told anyone, I really wanted a cat.

My father came from distinguished military stock, even if the lineage was rather tenuous and had associations with the wrong side of the blanket. The family tree includes Lord Lovat of Fraser – the man who formed the Commandos in World War Two – and his cousin David Stirling, who founded the SAS. So you could say there was fighting blood in the family.

My father was expected to enrol at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and follow the family tradition. But he stunned everyone by running away from home in his teens to join the Navy as a rating. He ended up a Chief Petty Officer.

Dad actually looked uncannily like that elegant actor Peter Lawford, who you may remember stomping up and down the beaches of Normandy in the epic 1962 movie The Longest Day, the one they always show on TV around D-Day. Lawford was fitted out in a white submariner's polo-necked sweater, green beret and stalking stick, and accompanied by his piper, all very natty. His role? Why, Lord Lovat! I always thought that stalking stick was a nice touch.

Years later, the media would hail my father as a hero when he was awarded the George Medal for gallantry after tangling with the IRA in a particularly nasty skirmish. Several historical books on the Marines would talk about his selflessness and courage, and you can find them on library shelves today. For me, his 'Number Two Son' as he always called me, I can add the footnote that my dad was the most honest and compassionate man I ever knew.

There's no doubt that the oxygen of adventure he breathed filled my young nostrils too. Dad was a rebel by nature – maybe that's where I acquired the same attitude – and swiftly became bored with shore hospitals. Instead he opted for something more challenging. After an early stint working with submariners, he volunteered for the Commandos and spent the rest of his career attached to the Marines.

It isn't generally known, but the Marines depend on volunteers from certain of the professions to swell their ranks. Doctors, dentists, teachers – even padres from all faiths – can be found wearing the coveted green beret on ceremonial occasions, the headgear which marks a man out as a Commando rather than a Royal Marine. And they have had to earn that precious headgear the hard way at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon, home of the Royal Marines.

These guys, often into their thirties and despite the generation gap, are put through the mill just like the tough eager-beaver youngsters desperate to join the ranks of the elite. The 'mill' meaning the longest military training course in the world, a full twelve months of it: handling the most up-to-date weapons, map reading, yomping over hostile MOD countryside (okay, the term hadn't been invented then, but forced marches across a rainswept Dartmoor require the same stamina), jumping in and out of helicopters, abseiling down cliff faces, assault and survival techniques, all the way through to hand- to-hand combat.

So, as Dad remarked one day, if you don't like the sermon, it might be wise to keep your thoughts about the parson to yourself. 'You never know where that dog collar's been!' he said pointedly.

There was never any lack of volunteers. Someone worked out that in one period of ten years more than 50,000 men applied to join the Royal Marines. Some 4,250 were accepted for training. Around 2,500 of those managed to win themselves the Green Beret. My dad was one of them. He enlisted, won his spurs in 1965 at the ripe old age of 33, passed with flying colours and almost immediately found himself shipped off to the Far East with 42 Commando, where his tour was interrupted in 1967 by his unit being deployed to Aden to cover the British withdrawal.

This wasn't Dad's first trip to that part of the world. On a spring morning in 1963 he had picked us up one by one, given us all a hug, kissed Mum goodbye and set off down the garden path. With a final wave at the gate, he was gone. We didn't see him again for eighteen months.

We heard snippets of news from time to time. He was on board HMS Messina, giving support to the British troops on shore, including 45 Commando, the unit he was later to join. In Aden, 45 Commando found themselves exchanging unpleasantries with dissident tribesmen holding their piece of ground in the bare hills and boulder-strewn wadis of southern Arabia. Ostensibly they were there to combat the terrorists who were conducting a guerrilla war in the State of Aden, subversives employing the usual tactics of snipers, minefields and bomb outrages. Privately, the general feeling was that we were there to keep the locals from each other's throats while the politicians sorted it out. Either way, it wasn't a place to take your summer holidays with a deckchair and a knotted handkerchief.

In 1967, back amongst the sand and scrub as a paramedic with 42 Commando, my father found himself in the bizarre position of being on call to tend injured troops by day, while keeping his trigger finger busy during patrols through hostile territory at night.

42 Commando were based in the Radfan, a 400-square-mile wasteland of scrub and desert where every drop of water was precious, and as one military memo warned our troops: 'Every tribesman has been brought up from boyhood with a rifle in his hands, and knows how to use it.'

That was okay, because our boys did too.

Mum, held up well. Three kids kept her busy. My brother Ian, four years older than me, was my parents' natural child, born before Mum and Dad found out they had conflicting blood groups, in medical jargon – the 'rhesus factor', and were advised not to have any more offspring. That's when I came on the scene. Dad always labelled us affectionately 'Number One Son and Number Two Son', naval jargon he had learned below decks, no doubt.

Finally Dad came home from Aden, bronzed and fit, with stories he would tell much later when we were old enough, which kept Ian and me enthralled. They gave us a glimmer of what went on in the controversial 'withdrawal from Empire' that in 1967 finally closed the door on that godforsaken territory on the Yemen border.

Commandos had been on 'operational tours' there for seven years, and I don't think you'll find a single man who was sorry to leave. The conflict had been a cat-and-mouse game of patrols and ambushes, watching your back on dark nights, avoiding the snipers and the landmines. The mines laid by the bad guys, as I found out later, were of British origin (Mark V and Mark VII anti-tank mines), thus adding insult to often-serious injury. 'You know what they say about being caught between a rock and a hard place,' my father observed once. 'Well, I think that shithole is where they invented the phrase.' When you hear that in one seven-week tour 305 night patrols were carried out by a single unit, you'll get some idea of the pressure they were all under.

My father's experiences in the desert instilled in him an intense dislike of Arabs in general, and the Yemen in particular. After all, he mainly saw them through his rifle sights when he wasn't wearing a stethoscope, dividing his time as he did between healing duties in the sick bay and potentially lethal night-time patrols, while politicians tried to work out a face-saving withdrawal from a futile battleground. 'They were the enemy. Communist terrorists. Or tribesmen fighting their own factions as well as us, the common foe. If they caught you, son, that was it. They'd behead you – just like that,' he told us.

Other kids get fireside fairy tales. Ian and me, we were brought up in the real world. Dad talked a lot about the real world as we grew up, and taught us a lot about it too. 'Those oily sods had never heard of the Geneva Convention. But at least when the Whitehall pen-pushers finally ordered us to pull out we gave the bastards something to remember us by. You wouldn't believe the high jinks we got up to.'

Dad went on to explain some of the 'high jinks' with which they did their best to rewrite the Hippocratic oath. 'Nothing was left for the Arabs to get their greasy hands on. We were ordered to burn everything in the hospital. Anything we couldn't put a match to, our engineers sabotaged. I only wish I could have stayed around to see the results.'

Like what?

'When the rebels broke into our quarters after we pulled out, all hell broke loose. If they went to the loo, the moment they sat down and put pressure on the seat – boom! And it wasn't a fart going off. As we used to say, more than the shit hit the fan! The dentist's chair was another beauty; the patient would swivel himself clockwise into position, no problem. But when the chair went the other way, his dental problems were over. No more toothache. No surgery, either.

'As part of the evacuation we were told to throw sheets and pillows out of the windows for a bonfire in the grounds. For the looters, that meant open season – and they'd scurry out of the bushes to grab whatever they could lay their hands on. More than one bootneck [marine] filled a pillowcase with sand and slung it out of the window three floors up ... to flatten an Arab into the dust! Splat! Three floors is a long way too.'

Dad finally came marching home after his first skirmish with an enemy on foreign soil, eighteen months older and a whole lot wiser. It wouldn't be his last posting abroad. But it had turned him into a cynic – or maybe just a realist. His message to Ian and me was brief and to the point: 'Never trust politicians.'

My father's next posting was to a different killing ground: the Far East. The Vietnam war, once described as 'a bright shining lie', had been dragging on since 1961, when the first US 'advisers' went in, and by now people had long since woken up to the size of the can of worms that had been opened.

All Dad knew was that he was heading for the Far East – and this time we would be going with him.



Well, not quite all the way. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was hardly a place for a family outing. We flew out to Singapore and stayed based there while Dad, still attached to 42 Commando, went about his own business further down the line. First stop, Malaysia. There he was seconded to the Americans and Aussies as a paramedic, to take care of them in field hospitals and out on manoeuvres while they were undergoing intensive jungle training before going back to the real thing in 'Nam.

'These guys weren't kids, but hardened troops sent back from the field. Our job was to sharpen their skills in tracking and concealment,' Dad recalled later. There was an edge to his tongue. 'When they first came to us it was no wonder they were losing so many men, especially the Yanks. They were the worst jungle fighters I ever saw. When it came to stalking, or making a covert approach, a boy scout could pick up their trail – just follow the Coke cans and sweet wrappers in between the cigarette stubs!'

After a few months of dealing with snake bites, insect stings and venomous spiders, dispensing medicine for diarrhoea and other tropical ailments, and patching up cuts and scratches before they turned septic, it was my father's turn to take the hard road into the real war. There he'd be facing live bullets – the full metal jacket, as the Yanks put it – and, as he told me later, he had to be prepared for some drastic field surgery. 'One of the best antiseptics for an open wound is to piss on it,' he said. That's something they don't teach you in biology at school.

As for Mum and us kids, we were housed along with other military families close to the Royal Marine Camp at Sembawang. Our home was a pleasant, airy two-storey building set in its own grounds, with wire mesh across the doors and windows, and mosquito netting over the beds.

I was only six, but it was like lotus land. The hot humid days went on for ever. I went to sleep to the musical croaking of crickets, a sound I'd never heard before. Huge fronded trees, exotic flowers and lush vegetation outside the windows made a magical playground where we could let our imaginations run riot and invent our own war games.

The favourite combat zones for me and my two best friends Royce and David, sons of neighbouring military families, were the 'monsoon drains', V-shaped concrete trenches three feet deep that would turn into raging torrents during the monsoon season and remain bone dry for the rest of the year. In the dry season we used them for trench warfare, while home-made go-carts made them an exhilarating race track, a concrete Cresta Run, whizzing under bridges where the drains went past houses ('Don't lift your head!') and ending more often than not with one of us crawling out with grazed elbows and knees after coming to grief on a bend.

One hazard you'd never find slithering around on the Cresta were the snakes and terrapins that inhabited the drains. You could stumble on anything from a sleepy python to small, brightly coloured snakes whose names I never knew but whose deceptive hues disguised their lethal nature. Once I brought home a large black worm I'd retrieved from a trench. I showed it in triumph to Dad, who was home on one of his rare visits – only to have him snatch it out of my hand, fling it to the floor and stamp it into pulp. 'You bloody idiot,' he stormed. "That's a bootlace snake. You're lucky you're not dead!' Dad had a way of making his point.

Another spot of mischief was to catch one of the nameless insects that would evade the mesh netting over the windows, crawl into the house and make our lives a misery. Some of them could give you a nasty sting, so we weren't too concerned about what happened to them. After a chase through the rooms, jumping on sofas and tumbling over chairs, we'd manage to trap our quarry in a tumbler with a piece of card over the rim, listening to the hollow buzz of its rage and panic. Then we'd locate one of the spider's webs we could always rely on festooning a corner of the front porch, and with one swift shake sping the frantic insect to its doom.

Sometimes the waiting spider would squat in its lair, partially hidden by a leaf or branch, its beady eye fixed on its quarry for up to an hour without moving. Other times it would scuttle down the web as if someone had prodded it with a live wire to leap on its prey and truss it up like a Christmas parcel, leaving it there for the rest of the day. What must it be like, I sometimes caught myself fantasising, watching that hairy monster approaching you for its dinner? Probably the victim had a heart attack and died of fright. I know I would. Well, that's nature for you. Cruel – and kids can be, too.

Out there in the tropics it was hot. For light relief our pet monkey Pickles provided daily entertainment. She was a fun-loving little character who was a natural comic and would scamper over the furniture, and rush through the rooms like a miniature whirlwind. Her particular joy was to ride piggyback on our patient cross-breed terrier Suna, or spend time sitting on my lap dabbing the sweat off my face and arms with one solicitous paw.

Oddly enough the local Chinese were terrified of her, for no good reason that I could understand. But I was glad of that, because it meant I slept better at night. One of the problems in our 'Brit enclave' was petty crime, particularly localised burglary. All the private houses were fitted with ornate railings over the windows as a deterrent, but that didn't stop the more inventive intruder, who would strip down to a thong, smear his body with grease and slither through like a contortionist to cut the wire netting. Amazing!


Excerpted from "The Filth"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Duncan MacLaughlin, William Hall.
Excerpted by permission of Thistle Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements, ix,
Foreword, x,
Part One,
1 Early Days, 3,
2 Lotus Land, 10,
3 The Borstal Boys, 15,
4 Sniper Alley, 20,
5 Medal for a Hero, 25,
6 Growing Up, 31,
7 Up the Creek, 37,
8 In For the High Jump, 41,
9 Decision Time, 47,
10 Banham's Boys, 56,
11 First Body!, 62,
12 Wayne Kerr, Is That You?, 73,
13 Fall Out!, 79,
14 On the Beat, 88,
15 Interlude with a Carpet-Sweeper, 96,
16 Kidnap!, 100,
17 Ding Dong!, 113,
18 Scaly Aide, 118,
19 Information Received, 130,
20 Snouts Inc., 135,
21 The Rubber-Heelers Move In, 146,
22 Rooftop Rendezvous, 155,
23 Three Wise Monkeys, 162,
Part Two,
24 The Filth, 173,
25 Flash in the Pan, 183,
26 Pc Blakelock, 194,
27 Con Tricks, 205,
28 The Drug Squad, 213,
29 Operation Applejack, 224,
30 Invasion of the Body Packers, 230,
31 Formula One, 235,
32 Brown Paper Parcel, 238,
33 'Anyone Got Any Clingfilm?', 250,
34 Pothole, 263,
35 Kenneth Noye, 271,
36 Michael Sams, 279,
37 Chase in the Fog, 298,
38 The Yardies, 309,
Epilogue, 317,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Filth: The Explosive Inside Story of Scotland Yard's Top Undercover Cop 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
StephenBReviews More than 1 year ago
I gave up on this book. It was terrible. Thank goodness I received a free ARC copy from NetGalley. It was nothing like the book description for a start. It initially read as a biography of his father. "Explosive Inside Story of Scotland Yard's Top Undercover Cop" it isn't. Boring early chapters about his early police career. He reckons he patrolled the streets as an 18-year old cadet. I know the Met is a law unto itself but I doubt even they would permit such a callow youth on the streets of London even if he was accompanied by a senior Police Constable. We are then told he was "appointed" (sworn in as a Constable) still at 18 years. Sorry, but that's not possible as 19 years is the minimum age for being sworn in. That lead me to doubt some of the "tales" in this book and I soon got too bored to read any further.
CharJones2525 More than 1 year ago
I am amazed that the author has not been offed by a government hitman for the level of secrets he’s revealed in THE FILTH. Mesmerizing and unputdownable! Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the advance copy, in exchange for my true review. #TheFilth #NetGalley
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
Duncan MacLaughlin has truly seen London at it's worst. Starting as a young in the Metropolitan Police Cadet Corps (MPCC ) up the ladder to Scotland Yard, was an adventure, that we readers won't soon forget. When I think Scotland Yard, I think Jack the Ripper, but it is so much more. Hearing about all the cases, he worked was fascinating. With fellow officers, an informant with gold teeth and the animal cases (you have to read about it), make this a great book for all you police buffs. I loved reading about it. I received this book from Net Galley and Thistle publishing for an honest review and no compensation otherwise.