Norman Pilcher

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Norman Clement Pilcher (born 1936) was a British police officer. After a transfer from the Flying Squad to the Drug Squad in 1967, Norman ‘Nobby’ Pilcher became notorious for the vigour with which he pinned possession of drugs charges on pop stars and hippies, and for the dubious methods employed in his undercover operations, which included paying off informers with drugs. Soon he became infamous for arresting a number of celebrities during the 1960s on drug charges, such as Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Donovan[1] and also two members of The Beatles, George Harrison and John Lennon.[2][3] The various celebrities complained that Detective Sergeant Pilcher framed them or was only carrying out raids and arrests to satisfy the tabloid newspapers.[4]

As is evident from reports in the alternative press and various histories of that time, it was widely believed that Pilcher was planting the drugs his victims were convicted of possessing.

Pilcher's reputation was damaged in the early 1970s, after it was claimed during the drug smuggling trial of Basil Sands that this man (who had been caught red-handed) was innocent, and had been working with the police. After the judge directed the jury to discount any private belief they might have that Pilcher's superior Victor Kelaher was at the centre of a drug smuggling ring, since this was something that should be addressed at a subsequent trial, Sands got seven years.

On November 8, 1972, Pilcher was arrested for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after it was alleged he had committed perjury. In September 1973 Pilcher was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment.[5][1]

Pilcher was the subject of the Primus song "Pilcher's Squad". It has also been speculated that the lyric "Semolina Pilchard" in The Beatles' song "I Am the Walrus" refers to Pilcher.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Donovan". Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "John Lennon fined £150 on drug charge". The Times. 29 November 1968. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Loving Layla by Eric Clapton". The Times (London). 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Travis, Alan (1 August 2005). "The night Yogi and Boo-Boo helped Semolina Pilchard snare a Beatle". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Gimme Some Truth: The FBI Files of John Lennon". Democracy Now!. 25 May 2000. Retrieved 22 November 2011.