Spaghetti House siege

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The Spaghetti House Siege began on the late evening of 28 September 1975, at the Spaghetti House restaurant in Knightsbridge, London. Franklin Davies, a Nigerian student, led two other gunmen in an attempted armed robbery of the Spaghetti House, where managers of the chain had assembled to pay in the week's takings of approximately £13,000. When the armed robbery did not go to plan, nine Italian staff members were taken hostage, and moved into the basement. Another staff member escaped and raised the alarm, leading to a siege of six days.

Events of the siege[edit]

The Metropolitan Police Service surrounded the restaurant and cordoned off the area. The gunmen, claiming to represent the Black Liberation Army, a Black Panther splinter group, demanded safe passage and an aircraft out of the country to Jamaica. Due to this being a sensitive issue Sir Robert Mark, the then Commissioner, consulted with the Home Office and refused.

According to Manwaring-White (1983), this was an early use of fibre optic technology as a live surveillance technique.[1]

Psychiatrist Dr Peter Scott gave advice about the mental state of the criminals. Radio reporters demoralised the robbers with the insistence their demands would never be met, and the Daily Mail suppressed a scoop at the commissioner's request, concerning the police arrest of a believed confederate of Davies. The police also ensured Davies received a false message that his alleged confederate was selling information to the newspapers.

The siege lasted for six days. The demoralised robbers and their captives emerged unharmed. The robbers subsequently received long jail sentences.

According to W. A. Tupman in Violent Business?: Networking, Terrorism And Organised Crime: "Subsequently, at the trial it was claimed that the BLA did not exist and the accused were simply criminals who wished to rob the restaurant for personal gain. It was frequently said at the time among cannabis users that 'If you want to buy dope North of the river [Thames], you have to deal with the IRA. South of the river it's the Black Liberation Army.' The author heard this said before the Spaghetti House Siege ever happened."[2]

Subsequently a number of works were produced based on the siege, including books, documentaries, and at least one film, Spaghetti House, a 1982 Italian comedy-drama.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Manwaring-White, Sarah (1983) The Policing Revolution. Police technology, democracy and liberty in Britain Brighton: Harvester Press
  2. ^ Violent Business?: Networking, Terrorism And Organised Crime, Tupman W. A.
  • Dhondy, Farrukh (1978) Siege of Babylon Macmillan
  • Giulio Paradici (Film) (1982) The Spaghetti House Siege
  • Manwaring-White, Sarah (1983) The Policing Revolution. Police technology, democracy and liberty in Britain Brighton: Harvester Press
  • Ové, Horace (TV Film) (1979) A Hole in Babylon Play for Today BBC

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′08″N 0°09′28″W / 51.50219°N 0.15777°W / 51.50219; -0.15777