Former Times journalist and St Albans resident publishes book about standing up to MI5, London’s gangs, and the Queen

Peter Evans, the author of Rebel With A Cause. Photo: The Book Guild.

Peter Evans, the author of Rebel With A Cause. Photo: The Book Guild. - Credit: Archant

Retired Times journalist and St Albans resident Peter Evans talks about meeting the Queen, standing up to London’s ‘Torture Gang’ and MI5’s secret machinations.

The front cover of the book Rebel With A Cause. Photo: The Book Guild.

The front cover of the book Rebel With A Cause. Photo: The Book Guild. - Credit: Archant

After 30 years at The Times covering crime, disaster, and the secret service, St Albans resident Peter Evans has penned a book about his life at the epicentre of the action.

Through the book, the 85-year-old hopes readers will learn a little more about the secret techniques he says MI5 officers use to get what they want. And also enjoy his exploits heading a team of reporters sent to fly off and cover emergencies and disasters.

Mr Evans said: “I was asked to start and run a news team on The Times to cover, at short notice, big disasters and big stories that required the attention of more than one reporter.

“I chose six reporters and had an airplane on hire at Luton airport to fly down to Elstree to pick us up.”

While leading the team, Mr Evans lead out an investigation across three continents into an attempt to upturn race relations in the UK, which was mentioned in the House of Commons.

During his career, he has also butted heads with MI5, a conflict which he says led to his phone being tapped, unmarked police cars parking outside his home, and a neighbour being asked to take down the number plates of his visitors.

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“A police car tried to intimidate me outside my home and I offered them a cup of tea. The officer pulled his baseball cap over his eyes in frustration as he realised I was getting more of them than they were out of me!”

In addition to the security services, Mr Evans has written about the run-ins he has had with the criminal underworld, such as the Richardsons, who were called the Torture Gang for, among other things, nailing their victims to the floor and cutting their extremities off.

Their leader, Charlie Richardson, was attempting to get parole, and Mr Evans wanted the letter he had sent to the parole board.

He then received a call saying Charlie was coming to “deal with him”.

His editor, Harold Evans, wanted to call in Scotland Yard, but the two eventually agreed to let it be.

The book also reveals how Mr Evans received the ire of one particularly unhappy reader – the Queen.

The Times had interviewed people who were unhappy at not being asked to attend a palace reception which Mr Evans had been invited to.

After being introduced to Her Majesty, she turned to him and asked, “Why can’t newspapers write more constructively about an event like this?”

He replied: “Ma’am it’s always difficult to write about conflict without causing it.”

Mr Evans said: “One of the advantages I have had is to go behind the scenes and examine the bureaucracy and it’s a very worrying development.

“The Brexit vote was more than a rejection of Europe, it was a rejection of control by bureaucrats by the proper democracy.”

Having learned German from prisoners of war and his trade as an apprentice on a pound-a-week, Mr Evans said: “It’s important to take advantage of every single opportunity you get.”

Mr Evans’ book, Rebel With A Cause, is available from Amazon for £13.