Ronnie Biggs: Secret Tapes
Ronnie Biggs became Britain’s most wanted man after fleeing prison following the most iconic crime in British history: The Great Train Robbery. 50 years later we reveal for the first time audio recordings of Biggs made by an investigative journalist who thought he had the scoop of the century. The tapes have been missing for decades. Ronnie Biggs: Secret Tapes sheds new light on the crime that still echoes around the walls of Fleet Street and Scotland Yard.
‘I do not believe that the initial money bought us any happiness. It destroyed our lives’
Ronald Arthur Biggs 1974
On 8 August 1963 a Royal Mail Train was making its way to London from Glasgow. It was intercepted at Ledburn, Bucks by a gang of masked men who escaped with £2.6 million. The incident would enter British folklore as ‘The Great Train Robbery’. The police took just a few months to find all the gang members, arrest them and put them behind bars. It was a brilliant success in crime solving.
The police were about to be given the run-around as just 15 months into a 30-year sentence, Ronald Arthur Biggs once of the gang members escaped from Wandsworth prison and overnight became Britain’s most wanted man.
Embarrassed and unable to find Biggs, reports emerged that Biggs was a “cowardly fool” with no regard for the victims of his crimes. The media rolled out the Biggs story like a soap opera. On one side he was described as a man interested in nothing but financial gain, at all costs, but others started to see him as an anti-hero. The police who suffered with a poor reputation from their style of policing in the 70s had inadvertently driven many to root for Biggs. This was the man who was believed to have upset the establishment.
Rarely has he been out of the media spotlight since he escaped from jail in 1964.
Despite this notoriety, the truth has remained a mystery. Biggs has had a number of heavily managed appearances and sensationalised interviews for the tabloid press. None have revealed anything new or got remotely close to finding out what drives him and how he got where he is today.
Now, over 4 hours of previously unheard tapes, recorded by a Daily Express journalist who tracked him down in Rio in 1974, will reveal the real Ronnie Biggs. During interviews, Biggs is surprisingly open about his early life. He talks about he was recruited into the gang for the Great Train Robbery; the planning stage; the robbery; escaping jail; painful plastic surgery; and life on the run.
Bizarrely, in a twist that neither the journalist nor Biggs could have predicted, these recordings lead to his downfall. The editor of The Daily Express secretly told the police of his journalists’ scoop. Senior officers from Scotland Yard, accompanied by the tabloids, charged down to Rio.
Biggs was arrested and another media storm had been created with him at the centre.
In another twist, a legal loop hole meant that Biggs could stay in Brazil. While Biggs had made fools of British law once again, he would never speak with such openness, making these recordings a unique historical document.