Dope smuggling, LSD, organised crime & the law in 1960s London
2nd June 2009
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Morland himself was an ex-public school smoothie, a former ski champion who belonged to the fast-set clustered around Princess Margaret, and would have inherited the Somerset Morland wool ‘fortune’ had the family business not gone belly-up in the seventies. In the sixties, he was a London art world insider with a teaching job in the sculpture department at St Martin’s College of Art. His mother, Dorothy Morland, had been director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Morland’s work in bronze of the early-sixties was well received. A Times critic covering the Sculptors of Today exhibition at the Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford praised him for ‘distinguished modelling coupled with imaginative insight’ (11 May 1962). The following year, alongside David Hockney, Joe Tilson, Peter Blake, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier, he appears in Gerald Laing’s photograph London Artists in Paris; this was taken during the Paris Biennale des Jeunes. 1963 was a key year for Morland, since he moved from working in bronze to using fibreglass finished in coats of cellulose paint.
became major players though the fortuitous combination of their money and Abbot’s contacts.
was going on at the checkpoint. When he saw one of his companions being led away in handcuffs, he escaped into Spain. After being reunited with his family in Ibiza, he concluded he was a wanted man, and hid in an attic for a month before making his way over the mountains into France using a compass and the cover of darkness to successfully navigate his way to freedom.
After escaping Spain and the potential drug rap hanging over him there, Abbot relocated to London, where by moving into the antique business he found himself working alongside one- shot novelist Bill Hopkins. My mother first met Hopkins in the early-sixties via her work as a hostess at Murray's Cabaret Club. After the publication of his only book The Divine & The Decay, Hopkins was briefly considered one of the leading Angry Young Men; but by the time my mother met him he'd reinvented himself as a businessman dealing in secondhand goods. Hopkins introduced Abbot to a girl he knew called Tina Lawson, who also happened to be Francis Morland's babysitter. At this point in time Morland and his partner Keith Wilkinson knew nothing about drug scamming but they quickly