Straw wanted ‘drug-smuggling’ informant freed

March 04, 2007, Sunday Times.
Stephen Grey

JACK STRAW, the former foreign secretary, instructed diplomats to lobby for the release of a convicted criminal described by police and customs intelligence reports as a leading smuggler of heroin into Britain.
Foreign Office telegrams ordered efforts to secure “the immediate release” from a German jail in 2001 of Andreas Antoniades who worked for years as a paid informer for Customs. At the time, he was wanted in Greece on drugs smuggling charges.
Although police or customs informers routinely receive rewards in cash, or reduced sentences if they are prosecuted, Straw’s attempt to help Antoniades avoid trial appears at odds with Customs’ code of practice, which states: “Informants have no licence to commit crime.”
Antoniades, who has never been convicted of a drug offence, was released shortly after the Straw telegrams and has since moved to Dubai.
According to former police officials and intelligence reports, Antoniades, 75, was one of three leading agents for Customs inside the gangs who have flooded Britain with billions of pounds of heroin since the early 1990s. One senior former drugs intelligence officer described the three as being, at one time, among the top five suspected heroin importers into Britain.
Former customs officials say leading drug smugglers often work as moles, motivated by the prospect of destroying rivals or hoping for an “insurance policy” to reduce their sentence if they are convicted. Intelligence from such sources has led to the seizure of huge hauls of drugs. But some question if they also win too much protection.
Antoniades, who confirmed to a Sunday Times reporter two years ago that he had made about £300,000 as a registered informant for Customs, is a Greek Cypriot who was first recruited in the 1950s by Britain to inform on Eoka, a guerrilla group fighting British control of Cyprus.
In 1959, Antoniades was resettled in Britain and turned to crime. He was jailed for four years for “wounding with intent” in a gun attack in west London. Over the following decades, however, Antoniades continued as an informer and became what one Customs official said was “one of the best we ever had”.
In the 1990s, suspicions grew, whether well-founded or not, that he was working with Turkish and Kurdish gangsters. One Customs officer reported that he was “suspected of being involved in organising large shipments of heroin being imported to the UK by various methods”.
But when arrested in Germany in 2001, according to an investigation by BBC Radio 4’s File on 4, to be broadcast on Tuesday, British officials tried to help him avoid trial. One telegram from Straw to the British embassy in Berlin on July 31, 2001, asked officials to “press the case for Mr Antoniades’ release immediately” with state and federal justice ministers. Officials were told to point out that “a public trial in Greece would reveal Mr Antoniades’ long career as an informant for Customs and Excise (1987 to date) and put his life at risk from criminal elements”.
But Straw’s instructions angered staff at the National Criminal Intelligence Service. One former senior officer at the agency, which has since been abolished, said: “At this very time we were preparing to target Antoniades for significant intelligence-led operations. How would the Germans and Greeks have reacted if we subsequently arrested him?”
Antoniades could not be traced for comment last week.
He is not the only controversial informant said to have been used by Customs. Others have included Huseyin Baybasin, head of a Kurdish gang accused of heroin smuggling.
Supported by witnesses, Baybasin claims he and his family moved from Turkey in the 1990s with the help of the British government after he agreed to provide information about the complicity of the Turkish government in smuggling. Baybasin, whose gang was said at one time to control 90% of the heroin trafficked into Britain, is serving life in a Dutch jail after being convicted of conspiracy to murder, drug trafficking and kidnap. He has always denied any involvement in the narcotics trade.

– Sunday Times

3 thoughts on “Straw wanted ‘drug-smuggling’ informant freed”

  1. Further to your story regarding Andreas Antoniades, here is some information that may be of use to you.
    This mans reputation is well known amongst Greek Cypriots in the UK as well as his native Cyprus. He is unable to visit his birthplace for fear of being killed by members of the families he betrayed. Having said this he still has many ‘friends’ in Cyprus who are willing to help him in anyway they can. In 1998 there was a scandal involving a certain Bishop Chrysanthos (now deceased) from Limassol and a scam in the Phillipines. See
    The Bishop, Antoniades and his nephew Stavros Stavrou, aka Stav, had all traveled there with the aim of selling some Japanese WW2 currency or bonds (some reports suggest diamonds), in a million dollar deal that was reported on southern Cyprus TV. Though the scam failed the Bishop returned to Cyprus and the then investigating reporter Mr Dimitris Mamas and a local MP Mr Christos Pourgourides tried to discover what the Bishop was actually doing in the Phillipines and who he was with. The Bishop was dealt with by the church rather than the police. Antoniades at the time was even interviewed via telephone (he called the channel) on southern Cyp TV regarding this incident. No charges were brought against anyone at the time and the case is now dormant if not dropped.
    Antoniades has fathered many children from different wives and mistresses, one of his sons Evris is a career criminal and a well known money lender in north London. Another son (possibly Evris) was shot and wounded by police in a botched robbery on a post office in Crouch End north London. Antoniades also has a sone from his Afghan born wife who is /was involved with a financial institution in the city of london. His Afghan wife is probably the link he had in dealing with the Afghans for the CIA in the recent reports of missile deals. She is apparently an Afghani princess. Antoniades has various property interests in the Brighton area though these may be registered in his wifes or other persons names. Antoniades’ most likely successor will be the son of his late sister Ariadne, he is Stavros Stavrou in his early 50’s and a lifelong scammer and drug dealer. He has lived in the UK, Italy, south Africa, Dubai and more recently the south part of Cyprus. He travels often to Dubai from Cyprus and was involved in various VAT frauds in the UK involving drinks in the 90’s though he was never convicted he was interviewed by Customs and Excise. It is believed he informed on his associates to avoid prosecution himself though intervention by his uncle and others cannot be ruled out. Stavrou was also involved in the recent mobile phone ‘Carousel’ fraud and is a registered director of companies with multi million pound turnovers regarding this type of fraud. He is registered as living at ‘Tarnwood’ Barnet Lane Arkely Herts. He has differing birth-dates on the register at companies house. He tries to emulate his uncle by often growing a beard in the same style; they bear a resemblance when he has such a beard. He has also fathered at least 4 children by 4 different women. It is believed his current wife is a former Russian cabaret dancer. Stavrou is involved in car dealing in Limassol Cyp as a front for his other activities, he also resides in this town when in Cyp. Stavrou has never been convicted of any crime though he is known to various authorities in many countries; he uses the same system as his uncle, bribery and informing. It is well known that he bribes official in government and members of the police forces of GB, South Africa and Cyp. Stavrou also deals in drugs once exporting charcoal from Namibia and SA to the UK. The 2 kilo bags contained a kilo of charcoal and a kilo of drugs, the charcoal would conceal the smell from the dogs should they sniff the container. Care was taken to load only the middle of the container with the bags containing the drugs.

  2. I
    I was the man who exposed all of this to Thames Valley Police even the copies of all correspondence between Jack Straw Nick Baker MBE chief Antoniadis handler and Sir Lionel Savoury MI6 who looked after Antoniadis in Cyprus and here ever since. I still have all and more of these papers. I was fitted up by those named above and was given 10yrs because I threatened to pass this on to a Guardian reporter from Lewes Brighton. Mr. Grey can have chapter and verse if wishes to contact me. I’m reopening my case and

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