Dave Courtney is one of London's best known former gangsters. In his time his vast amount of criminal contacts have led to him being dubbed the Yellow Pages of Crime. On the darker side he's been shot and stabbed and has had to kill to stay alive.
Now a best-selling author, sometime actor, and star of his own documentary we caught up with him in hospital when he was recovering from a car accident.
Ok, I suppose the easiest place to start would be to ask what happened?
I was coming home on the A2, doing about 100 miles an hour when I saw a car coming up towards me really quick - I was in the new Range Rover - I thought bollocks I'm not moving over. So he pulled over into the inside lane to come up alongside and just clipped me and off I went - about 180 yards down the road and rolled 12 times.
I've broken my pelvis at the back, smashed it at the front. I've had bits of metal put in me, I've had two vertebrae broken off my spine, I broke my coccyx, my ankle, six ribs, punctured my lungs, fractured my skull, ruptured my spleen and ruptured my kidneys - apart from that I feel fine…oh, and I've got a verucca.
On the one hand you've got a reputation as the flash bastard.
Yeah, and well deserved…
But on the other you did start out as a villain - have you any idea why you seem to be so popular?
The biggest weapon the police have is the power of the media. They can say anything they want and, because they've got to take the high moral stance, anyone who's done anything naughty in their life, ever, cannot have anything good said about them - they can't glamorise crime, glorify it or justify it. You know - you robbed a bank 20 years ago so you're an horrible bastard.
The truth is; the fact that you do something naughty for a job doesn't necessarily make you a horrible person. If it's robbing banks, it's the same as being a plumber - he gets his tools of the trade, he goes on site, he does his job and he comes home. He's not a plumber in the front room. He doesn't sit there playing with a monkey wrench on the settee and I don't sit there with a gun going, make me a sandwich. Being popular is what's causing me the problems.
I'm no longer a threat to the police - the problem they've got is that everyone actually likes Dave and some way they've got to stop people liking him - coz he just run for Mayor last year for fuck's sake and he beats policemen up!
I know it's million to one chance I'd get in but once I'd looked at my application there were only 14 other applicants. Only 3% of people in London actually vote for London mayor, and I make people travel all over the world to go to raves - So to get someone to turn up first thing in the morning and put a cross on a bit of paper for nothing - people would do it for me.
It was a genuine threat. The man that is democratically voted in to be Lord Mayor is in charge of the Metropolitan Police - and they just hit panic stations there.
So they concocted a story 24 hours before the vote and said "we're banning you from the vote." I asked why and they said, "you've lied on the application form", I said I hadn't and they said "it says here you haven't been in prison in the last five years" and I said I hadn't. They said, "Well you've written a book and said you've been to Belmarsh".
I said I was on remand and I got not guilty so that doesn't count!
So they nicked my ten grand for my entry and then threw me out. Which is exactly what they did with Jeffrey Archer so me and Jeffrey Archer - although he might not like to say so - we're both running along very similar lines. We're both best-selling authors, we've both run for mayor, we've both been thrown out from running for mayor, we've both been to the Old Bailey - but that's where the similarity stops because he got guilty and I never.
So do you reckon you're more of a thorn in their side now you've gone legit?
They've actually said this to me. I am now 500 times more of a thorn in their side than I ever was when I was active. I take that as the biggest compliment and intend to use freedom of speech to exploit the faults in the police force. I'm not a policeman hater. I'm not a stupid fucking idiot. I do know that 75% or 60% of the police force are incorrupt.
I've had ten not guiltys - how upset are they? The last time I went to court the copper went to prison and I beat him up in court. You understand what I'm saying? I'm not saying they're horrible, I'm saying they're the same as anyone else in the world. I've bloodied their nose on numerous occasions and I'm not fucking stupid enough to think that they're going to go "ah well, doesn't matter, Dave you really got us that time."
You've already been tried and been found not guilty too for other crimes - so you can't be tried again right?
Well you can, the double jeopardy law's going to be gone soon so you can be tried again. Another reason I'm leaving the country.
On that subject, sort of, the film? Tell me about that.
Ah, the film. The most enjoyable thing I've ever done! Guy Ritchie's a friend of mine. I auditioned for Snatch in my back garden and he gave me the part of Brick Top, I was learning the lines and all that.
Then all of a sudden the powers that be got in touch with him and said they couldn't have Dave Courtney in the film. So I've had to make my own film myself.
The only member of the so-called criminal world that intends to carry on badmouthing me I'm afraid is Frankie Fraser. The geezer's an absolute fucking arsehole and the only reason I'm allowed to say this is because he is.
He admits he's never pulled anyone's teeth out with pliers. The closer you get to know him you actually realise it's all myth, he's a wanker and it's all untrue. I'd love to write a book about something that happened 40 years ago - I could tell as many lies as I want, half the people involved are dead! But I'm writing about things that are happening now and people that are still on it. He's full of shit.
It's quite bizarre the way you've transformed yourself.
I haven't transformed myself! I haven't. I was exactly the same person as you're speaking to now when I was active. In the daytime I would have done something else that's all. I never said I was a paid killer.
Gangland murderer is the phrase normally used…
I shot at someone that fucking killed my mate first! I was standing beside someone that got shot and killed! Maybe my crime was I had a gun on me at the time but after my mates been shot the other fella's definitely fair game!
I would like to find the man who would stand up and say he would do anything different that what I done. I know they go gangland murderer
and all that - but if you could show me a man who'd say, well I wouldn't shoot back, I'd rather die, I'll show you a liar.