AS a mark of respect Billy Webb made a point of turning up at the

funeral in Glasgow of Arthur Thompson, Scotland's most notorious

gangster. On the other hand, because he held him in no regard

whatsoever, it never even crossed his mind that he should attend the

over-the-top funeral of Ronnie Kray through the East End of London the

other week. Nor was he prepared to join in the crocodile tears being

shed on that occasion by other former enemies of the gangland twin.

The tramlines slashed on Billy Webb's face many years ago warn that

here is a man not to be meddled with. He is a villain who will hold a

grudge and seek retribution when crossed.

In conversation he mentioned the name of a man -- who a few years ago

gained world-wide notoriety -- but who recently had done him out of some

money. ''He'll live to regret that,'' he promised.

''Death was kind to Ronnie Kray. He deserved a lot more than he got,''

Billy Webb declares with more than a degree of vehemence. Others might

have been prepared to forgive and forget, but not Webb. ''He got off

lightly. It is said that Ronnie screamed out for his mother just before

he died, but compared with what he inflicted on others he suffered no


While lily-livered liberals, such as myself, are concerned about the

recent reawakening of the capital punishment debate in the UK, Webb has

no qualms.

''It is a pity they abolished the death penalty. This would have been

right and just punishment in the case of the Krays and would have saved

a lot of heartache and misery to many people who sat and watched the

glamorisation of the twins in recent years.''

Now that Ronnie is dead, he thinks it is possible that when Reggie is

eventually released he will abandon a scheme the twins had developed to

set up a new club to be called the Sweeney Todd. ''It was a twisted

notion. They even intended to have sawdust on the floor splattered with

red ink simulating blood.''

While clearly Webb disliked Ronnie most, it is just as obvious he does

not hold Reggie in high regard. From his prison cell, Reggie had been

writing romantic letters to Webb's daughter. ''She's well away out of

London,'' said Webb. ''She will be safe from him when he gets out.''

In his youth, Webb was very much in the same business as the Kray

twins. He and his older brother Ron ran illegal gambling clubs,

protection rackets, and he offered his hard-man services to those too

squeamish of blood to defend themselves. He was an enforcer for Rachman,

the notorious slum landlord of the sixties. Webb was into any scam that

would make money. He offered muscle and, if necessary, backed it up with

what he calls ''lethal weapons''.

Now aged 61, Webb still likes to be seen driving flash cars -- in his

youth it was a distinctive Cadillac Coup de Ville, today it is a Porche

with a personalised number plate from Ireland.

He also makes it clear that he is still involved with an illegal

gambling den in London. However, nowadays his main source of income is

from a scam he operates in the Far East.

''I won't tell you the name of the country,'' he said, ''because they

would almost certainly get their hands on a copy of The Herald and try

to put a stop to it.

''But in this Far Eastern country they have banned betting, except,

that is, when there has been a death in the family. In these

circumstances the authorities allow gambling at the wake.

''What we do is go along to that country and borrow a body for up to a

couple of weeks. We move it from house to house and from town to town.

It enables me and my friends, not from this country, to set up a

lucrative operation.

''We are talking big money here. The Chinese live to gamble and we

give them the opportunity.

''Nobody loses. The family of the deceased get enough money to provide

for a decent funeral -- something they could not otherwise afford -- and

the people whose houses we use get whatever share of the take we have

agreed upon.

''We play it straight!

''Once other expenses have been paid, such as a backhander to the

local cops, we are left with a tidy sum and it's almost legal.''

Webb says he spends several months of the year out of Britain running

the scam.

In his time he has known all the villains. He was friendly with George

Cornell and Jack ''The Hat'' McVitie, both murdered by one or other of

the Kray twins. He talks about ''Mad'' Frankie Fraser, enforcer for the

Richardson gang south of the river, with a degree of affection, and

speaks highly of Arthur Thompson.

''I liked Arthur very much,'' he says. After a pause he adds: ''I have

to be careful what I say to you. I don't want to upset the new 'Man' up

there. I will be going to Glasgow shortly.''

All in all, unless crossed, Webb seems to have got on reasonably well

with all the infamous names of the fifties and sixties underworld --

except of course the Krays.

And that may seem strange as their paths kept crossing most of their

adult lives -- ever since Webb and Ronnie Kray shared safe houses

together when each had gone Awol during National Service -- and when it

is considered Webb frequently visited both Reggie in prison and Ronnie

in Broadmoor.

For most of the time it was live and let live, but there were

occasions when tolerance came close to a face-to-face confrontation.

It was in the Old Horns public house in London's Bethnal Green, deep

in the Krays's manor, that violence finally erupted. According to his

version, Billy and Ron Webb were set upon by the twins and their

henchmen. Outnumbered 20 to one both the Webbs were badly beaten up.

According to Billy Webb his brother never really recovered and he

attributes Ron's early death to the battle at the Old Horns.

When his brother died, and an anguished Billy Webb visited Ronnie Kray

in Broadmoor, he walked straight up to the gangland killer and set about

him. ''I managed to get a few punches in before the screws pulled me off

him,'' he recalled. ''It was the first time I had come across grief,''

he said.

''It was not just Ronnie Kray. I was having a go at anybody who had

bad-mouthed my brother. The police came to my gaff and told me to cool


Although they were in the same business as the Krays, Webb said: ''We

were never like them. Anything my brother and I did, we did it for

money. Ronnie Kray would cut people up for little or no reason.

''I have never killed anyone . . . at least not as far as I know.

''Yes I was delighted when they were finally sent down. I told the

police about the Old Horns battle.

''I certainly was not unhappy when I heard Ronnie had finally died.''

The paperback edition of Billy Webb's book, Running with the Krays, is

published by Mainstream Publishing, priced #6.99.