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Detective who arrested Kray twins dies aged 95

The Kray twins were the most notorious criminals of the 1960s.

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Leonard Read at the Home Office in London (PA)

Leonard Read at the Home Office in London (PA)

Leonard Read at the Home Office in London (PA)

The Scotland Yard detective credited with bringing the notorious Kray twins to justice has died at the age of 95, his family said.

Former detective chief superintendent Leonard Read, known to most as Nipper, arrested East London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in May 1968, after trailing the brothers for years.

They were the most notorious criminals of the 1960s, heading an organised underworld empire of protection rackets, violence and murder.

Born in Nottingham in 1925, Read joined the Metropolitan Police in 1947 and was posted to the “D” Division, covering Regent’s Park, Marylebone, Paddington and Camden Town.

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Leonard Read (PA Archive)

Leonard Read (PA Archive)

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Leonard Read (PA Archive)

He rose through the ranks to become part of the team solving the Great Train Robbery in 1963, and the following year was transferred to the Kray case.

Read was promoted to detective chief superintendent in 1967 and posted to Scotland Yard’s murder squad, where he led the investigation into the brutal East End gang which netted the twins a fortune and allowed them to live a life of luxury.

Their bloody reign ended in 1969 when they were both jailed for murder.

Ronnie, the elder of the twins by 45 minutes, was convicted at the Old Bailey of the murder of George Cornell, while Reggie was locked up for the murder of Jack “The Hat” McVitie.

Retired police officer David Eager, who worked alongside Read as a detective sergeant during the investigation, told the PA news agency he was well-liked and respected amongst his colleagues.

He said: “During the time before the Krays were eventually arrested, (Read) had to make a lot of decisions relative to the investigation, particularly  in deciding whether we had enough evidence to arrest them.

“We did not have much help from the public who were obviously still frightened of the Krays for the hold they had over the East End.

“He was very well-liked and respected by all, he made some difficult decisions and dealt with them accordingly.”

In the 2015 biopic Legend, which starred Tom Hardy as both twins, Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston took on the role of Read.

Read published two autobiographies with ghostwriter James Morton: Nipper in 1991 and Nipper Read: The Man Who Nicked The Krays in 2001.

In a tribute on Twitter, the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre said: “We are sad to announce that Leonard “Nipper” Read QPM died this morning aged 95.

“A Met legend, he is best known for his part in bringing the Kray Twins to justice and his autobiographies hold places of honour in our collections.”

A promising boxer, Read won medals for the sport at school and gained his nickname “Nipper” while training at Grundy Boxing Club.

The British Boxing Board of Control, which he used to chair, called him a “wonderful servant” to the sport.

“It is with great sadness that the British Boxing Board of Control has learnt of the passing of former chairman Mr Leonard “Nipper” Read,” general secretary Robert Smith said.

“Nipper was a wonderful servant to the British Boxing Board of Control and the sport of boxing.

“Our condolences to Nipper’s family at this time.”

PA