On Monday, September 13, 1971, thieves tunnelled into the vault of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street in London, and ransacked the safety deposit boxes, making off with a haul estimated at the time to be in the region of £500,000. In fact, the robbers looted in excess of £3million, which, in 1971, made it the largest ever bank robbery in the United Kingdom.
For the next four days, the story dominated the news – “The Moles of Baker Street” screamed one headline; “Sewer Rats” exclaimed another; and then, suddenly, the story disappeared. The last reports ran on Thursday, September 16. Then there was silence.
Without much precedent, a D-Notice was issued – namely, a government order that forbids the press from reporting on certain events. Ordinarily, such a measure would be employed only if the story threatened national security. So why was it slapped on this particular story? What else did the robbers find in those safety deposit boxes?
For many years it was believed that the safety deposit boxes contained photographs of Princess Margaret that were, to say the least, of a compromising nature. She was rumoured to have had affairs with a string of lovers, including Peter Sellers, and other well-known and some not so well- known faces about town.
These photographs, it was said, were in the possession of a shady character called Michael X, a slum landlord and pimp, who tried to present himself as a British version of the activist Malcolm X. His ownership of the pictures bestowed upon him a “get out of jail free card”, whereby the courts overlooked his criminal activity.
Michael X with Yoko Ono and John Lennon
Another such character favoured by the Queen’s sister was the late tough-guy actor and gangster, John Bindon, boyfriend of a Baronet’s daughter, Vicki Hodge, who was an actress and model. Bindon was definitely a regular visitor to Mustique, the island favoured by Princess Margaret, and did indeed meet and attend parties where she was present. It is alleged that she thought he was very amusing, and that he was a favourite of the Princess, and that he often impressed her with his party trick of balancing five half-pint beer mugs on his manhood.
John Bindon with Vicki Hodge
The Caribbean connection to Princess Margaret is a fairly obvious one. And while we’ve become so used to Royal scandals since then, in 1971 it would have been a much, much bigger deal. There was a lot of sensitivity because of the Christine Keeler affair, and they did not want another scandal dancing around like that.
Michael X’s file is buried until 2054, which in itself is extraordinary. What hold did he have over the British Government that was keeping him out of jail, and what is so important that the Government want it buried for another 40 years – boggles the mind. Even if it was photographs of the Royal Family, you’d have thought that there wouldn’t have had such a long after-life.
So, what was so secret that caused all of this? Photographs do exist but it was not snaps of Princess Margaret in compromising situations with the likes of Bindon, Sellers et al. It was indeed a liaison of Princess Margaret of the most dangerous kind that nearly brought down the Monarchy and split the Royal Family. That secret had to be guarded at all costs, including, if necessary, using all the organs of the State to ensure it would never be leaked.
The real story behind the ‘walkie-talkie robbery’, as it became known, can now be told. It is similar in one aspect to one solved by Baker Street resident Sherlock Holmes in The Red-Headed League. The secret that has been so fiercely coveted since 1951 must also now be revealed.