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The criminal legacy of the London Olympics

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A new book exposes the corruption and dodgy deals behind the 2012 Olympic Games in London, writes Simon Basketter
Issue 2664
Davey Hunt made a fortune from the London Olympics
Davey Hunt made a fortune from the London Olympics (Pic: Matt Lancashire/Flickr)

A toxic cloud drifted towards the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony from a fire at a recycling yard.

It didn’t disrupt the games, but it was close.

The waste from the building work for the Olympics was recycled at Hunt’s Waste.

Davey Hunt, or the Long Fella as he was known, ran a gangster dry-cleaning criminal empire—and was cashing in on redevelopment.

There were fortunes to be made on Olympic redevelopment and the crooks were in on it at every level.

Michael Gillard’s startling new book lifts the rock on the violence and corruption that let him do it.

The cops predicted the games would present “serious organised criminals with a range of money-making opportunities”. On that, they were right.

Organised crime owned a lot of the “Silvertown Strip” in east London’s Canning Town. It was sitting on valuable real estate.


Billy Allen, a fraudster and police informer, said he owned the land. Chick Matthews and his son, friends of Hunt, used the land.

Allen fought in the courts and so did Hunt—literally. One day Hunt’s men casually strolled into the court, when they left the walls and floors were splattered with blood after they beat Allen’s minders to pulp.

Despite CCTV, no one was prepared to testify—so no prosecution.

Gillard points out that the police often “retire” cops they no longer want or trust. Corruption investigations are more complex.

In Newham, cops uncovered a scandal involving murder, freemasonry and deals which the Met and the council were trying to suppress. The council’s enforcement division contracts were run by former cops.

One contractor was murdered. A Met detective was suspected of involvement in preventing corrupt colleagues from being exposed. He retired.

An internal council report in 2005 found “the scale of payments” left Newham council “vulnerable to allegations of corruption”.

In 2006 Danny McGuinness was arrested for using his cover as a council contractor to steal luxury cars.

Detectives found over £1 million in stolen goods. The cops also raided a scrap metal business on the land Matthews had won with Hunt.

The council’s enforcement division warned the cops of the “potential ramifications” of the trials dragging government departments into the scandal.

Prosecutors were told the cops were under investigation for corruption. Both Matthews and McGuinness’ trials were abandoned.

The detectives were investigated for five years before being cleared and paid compensation.

Hunt’s gang initially grew alongside far right football hooligans in the 1980s.

They gave West Ham’s Inter-City Firm the security contracts for raves and clubs so they could control the drugs flow.


West Ham Football Club ended up with the former Olympic stadium, and Gillard describes in detail the more respectable dodgy deals that let that happen.

There are some in Newham council who will read the book with trepidation.

When the right wanted to lead a protest march against the club last year, Hunt arranged a meeting.

He met with David Sullivan, the pornographer and football club owner, and the Football Lads Alliance-backing, Inter-City Firm veteran, Andy Swallow to get the march called off.

As it happens, David Sullivan lent Davey Hunt £1 million to pursue that legal case.

Hunt sued Michael Gillard for libel for some of the revelations in the book. Hunt lost—and Gillard has kept a low public profile ever since.

The smell of a toxic cloud can linger.

Legacy—Gangsters, Criminals and the London Olympics by Michael Gillard is out on 25 July and is £18.99

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