Convicted UDA leader is a big hit with crowds as guide on gangster bus tour of London

Convicted UDA boss wins rave reviews as tour guide on gangster bus tour of London, the Sunday World can reveal.

rank Portinari – the famous UDA “sergeant” of the English capital – invents it by speaking of his time as Cockney’s gangster.

And with his close ties to the Ulster loyalists, the Northern Irish are rushing for his tours on the so-called ‘Naughty Bus’.

The open-air tour circles London’s ‘infamous’ East End and tells the stories of the once feared gangsters who frequented pubs and clubs, including the famous Kray twins.

Part of the tour – which costs £ 25 per person – takes place over a pint in the Blind Beggar pub where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell, and ends at The Clink Prison Museum in Southwark.

Portinari also makes a living writing books about his time as a gangster and loyalist and he also broadcasts podcasts about his life as a criminal. But ironically – given that this is a gangster tour – Frank’s reputation seems too notorious as the official Gangster Tours website doesn’t mention him, despite his regular discussions on the bus.

“There is no photo of Frank on the official site and his photo is not in the gallery,” a source said.

The website mentions Micky Goldtooth and Ian McKenzie as touring, but you’d think, given Frank’s story, he’d be in the foreground.

“The only photos of Frank appear on his own Twitter feed where he regularly announces his appearances on the bus tour.

“Maybe being a convicted terrorist is just too much of a gangster for the people behind the tour.”

Portinari recently tweeted a photo of him with a Ballymoney group, Co Antrim, who had taken one of his Underworld tours.

He said: “Outside the Blind Beggar with good friends from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland. Http://gangstertours.co.uk.”

The tour is currently ranked 28 out of 1,627 tours across London. Of the 389 reviews left on the site, 379 qualified the visit as “excellent”.

A source told The Sunday World: “Frank has a lot of friends in loyalist areas, especially County Antrim, and when he’s here he always tells people to come and do his gangster rounds.

“It’s the same as the terrorist tours in Belfast – people love to hear about criminals and violence, they are obsessed with it.

“London thugs like the Krays were romanticized but in the end many of them were vicious killers.”

Portinari used to visit the Rathcoole area regularly and became a close friend of John ‘Grugg’ Gregg who was shot dead in February 2003 after arriving in Belfast after attending a Rangers FC game.

Portinari was convicted and imprisoned in 1994 for supplying arms and ammunition to the UDA.

In the early 1990s he became a leader of the UDA in London. He joined the Apprentice Boys of Derry and got a new job as a school guard.

But Portinari soon used the school premises to organize fundraising events for loyalist “prisoners of war”.

In 1993, a World in Action TV documentary revealed the close ties between the UDA and Combat 18 in London.

But Portinari also used the school to store weapons he acquired through contact with gangsters. The weapons were to be smuggled back to his UDA contacts in Northern Ireland.

The London-based UDA has also been implicated in several bombings of Irish pubs in London. And they were behind two plots to kill the mayor of London, Ken Livingston, who supported the “troops”.

Only a high-profile police operation prevented the former Labor MP from being shot while speaking at a Bloody Sunday rally.

But Portinari’s gun carrying business ended in 1994 when he and Belfast loyalist James McCrudden were picked up from a parking lot in Birmingham as they were about to hand over a bag full of guns fire.

During his appearance before Birmingham Crown Court, Portinari, who was 36 at the time, was sentenced to five years in prison and McCrudden, 33, was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Portinari told Sunday World earlier this year that he became involved with the UDA while living in north London.

He added: “I gradually got interested in Northern Ireland. And living in North London, I have witnessed the Bloody Sunday marches and the anti-internment protests.

“I worked in the construction industry and obviously heard a lot of talk about Irish politics. But I quickly realized that the loyalists were far behind the Republicans when it came to propaganda. I started to speak out. my own pro-union views and gradually – because I could talk – other people started pushing me forward.

“And when the horse to be the head of the organization in England arrived, I decided to ride.”

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