Paul 'Scarface' Ferris, a name given to him because of the knife scar running down the right-hand side of his chin and because of his self-portrayed gangster-style image was born on 10 November 1963, and brought up in the rough, rundown area of Blackhill in the East End of Glasgow. Ferris has been given a few monikers over the years including the Ferret and King Rat! The youngest of four children, the young Ferris would follow his older brother Billy into a life of violence, duplicity, trickery and crime. His first conviction came at the age of 17 in the form of assault and robbery for which he was sentenced to three months imprisonment and sent to a young offenders. Then, for crimes related to a road traffic offense Ferris received a further one-year jail time which he served at the same young offenders institution.
Because of Ferris's home location it meant he lived in close proximity to the notorious Thompson crime clan who were based in Provanmill. Head of the family Arthur Thompson, the man the Scottish media dubbed the Glasgow godfather, was well-known in the area and it was common knowledge amongst the community residents that he was a very influential and powerful figure within the criminal underworld. But it was Thompson's youngest son, Billy, that Ferris became friendly with in the beginning and very quickly they became close partners in crime.
Ferris was desperate to prove his loyalty to the Thompson crime machine and so he made himself available, putting himself forward to carry out their dirty work for cash and recognition. The young Ferris was keen to prove his worth and ability to work for his new employees and it didn't take long before he got his chance to shine, or so he thought. An opportunity presented itself when a local vehicle mechanic by the name of William Gibson refused to take the rap for guns found in a car belonging to one of the Thompson family. A decision was made to have Gibson shot so an inexperienced 19 year-old Ferris, along with young Billy Thompson and another contemptible thug by the name of John Gilchrist set out to punish him. Orders in place, pitch black and with only the street lamps offering some sort of light, the three of them waited at a motorway pedestrian footbridge ready to spring into action and ambush Gibson and some of his close family members as soon as they appeared after a night out at a nearby pub called The Anvil Inn. Of the many ways the greenhorn trio could have punished Gibson they chose to shoot him in front of his family, knowing full well they had to walk over the footbridge in order to get back home. Worse still: the wrong man would be shot that night. John Hogg, who was a coach driver and innocent cousin to Gibson, and in full view of his wife Shirley, was the one who got hit as the hail of Copper-tipped bullets came flying at them from all different angles. Hogg identified his shooter as Paul Ferris, saying categorically that he was the baby-faced kid who pulled the trigger. He even described how some of the bullets pinged off the fence in the cowardly attack. Shortly after the shooting the police arrested Ferris and his cohorts and duly charged them with attempted murder as well as discharging a loaded firearm. They appeared at the Sheriff Court in Glasgow, but by the time the case went to trial several months later in 1984, it was only Ferris himself who sat in the dock accused of blasting John Hogg in the thigh and shattering his femur bone. Surgeons had stood for seven hours piecing together, like a jigsaw puzzle, the bone structure of the innocent coach drivers leg: he would spend the next two months in hospital and was even threatened by Ferris's cronies and warned not to give evidence. Mr Hogg, despite these threats, courageously went to the High Court in Glasgow and pointed Ferris out as being the gunman who shot him that evening. Ferris, however, lodged a special defense of alibi claiming he was inside a fish and chip shop at the time of the shooting and the owner of the shop backed up his story which put an element of doubt in the minds of the jury. Ferris, with the help of his defense barrister, the formidable Donald Findlay QC, as well as the Thompson's pulling a few strings here and there, went on to receive a not proven verdict, a ruling unique in Scottish Law. An encouraging result for a young crook wishing to make a name for himself. A shattering blow to John Hogg and his family who were cheated out of justice!
Ferris continued to work with the Thompson family, so much so that Arthur Senior treated him like a son and a framed photograph of him had its pride of place on top of the mantle piece in his home. Glasgow at this time had become a breeding ground for heroin addicts. This was the new drug of choice and criminals were getting rich very quickly because of the overgrowing and copious sales. Strathclyde police spotted the problem immediately and set out to disturb the control and supply chain and to convict as many of the top players as they possibly could. In 1985 Arthur Thompson's eldest son, Arthur Junior, would receive an 11-year jail sentence for dealing heroin. This was a devastating blow to the Thompson juggernaut since Arthur Senior was getting older and he expected his eldest son to take control of the family criminal empire. The Thompson camp was in complete disarray and it seemed young Arthur was baying for blood, accusing the likes of Ferris of betraying him and setting him up. Indeed it was the case that Ferris had become friendly with certain police officers, so much so that the following year in 1986 he formed quite a relationship with PC Graham Mitchell, a zealous cop with an eye on furthering his career within the force. Their friendship blossomed and Mitchell asked Ferris to get him a shotgun. Ferris obliged, selling him the weapon for £100 complete with ammunition. The dodgy cop stashed the gun under a bed at his parents house and then a strange thing happened. Ferris AND Mitchell both stood trial as co-defendants over the sale and possession of the shotgun. Ferris would go on to receive a three-year jail sentence. PC Mitchell walked free from court. Around the same time another police officer who worked for the drug squad, DS Derek Ingram, wasn't so fortunate and was booted out of the police force for professional misconduct and working with known criminals. A Scottish television company (STV) were heavily involved in this particular case. They went out of their way to secretly film the police officer attending a prearranged meeting with one of Ferris's contacts of the time, Russell Stirton.
With young Arthur banged up in jail Ferris had ideas of his own so he jumped ship, betraying Thompson Senior who had shown him so much respect, and he went on to join forces with Thomas 'The Licensee' McGraw, an aspiring street player and influential drug dealer from the Barlarnark Team. Over time they devised a plan that would ultimately cripple the Thompson empire but not before Ferris himself completed his prison sentence at HMP Shottts for the possession of the shotgun he supplied to PC Mitchell.
When Ferris exited jail mid 1988, and with young Arthur Thompson still banged up serving out his lengthy jail term, it was a simple case of carrying on from where he left off. Tam 'The Licensee' McGraw had already upset the Thompson's by not appearing as a potential defence witness in young Arthur's trial, so in Ferris's mind there was no one better equipped with sincere aspirations to take over the Thompson family tradition and stronghold within the criminal underworld. What's more and abundantly clear at this stage is that Ferris had serious problems and issues relating to the loyalty he once had for the Thompson clan. What went so wrong? Well, Ferris claimed publicly that he felt young Arthur had set him up and grassed him when he and his girlfriend went to live in a so-called safe house in Rosthesay, a luxurious home owned by Thompson Senior on the Isle of Bute: this was no more than speculation and without a single shred of evidence to back up such an accusation. Whatever the truth, one has to ask themselves how on earth young Arthur was able to send armed police to a house in Rothesay when he was in prison serving an eleven-year prison sentence?
(It was after this that Ferris became closely linked to rival big-time operator, the Licensee. McGraw had earned his moniker because he controlled his vast taxi and ice-cream van empire from his pub, the Caravel, in Glasgow’s tough Barlanark scheme. But the Licensee’s enemies claimed he had earned the title because of a close relationship with Strathclyde Police, who they alleged had set him up as a underworld supergrass.
Not surprisingly, Ferris’s ambitions quickly caused tension with McGraw. Their deadly partnership broke down when Ferris accused his ally of setting him up in a police drugs bust in Rothesay. He escaped conviction for the bust in 1990, but afterwards his rivalry with the Thompson family and McGraw continued to grow.) EXCERPT FROM THE SCOTSMAN
For the true story on Ferris you need to read The Glasgow Curse autobiography. The tide is turning and the people of Glasgow are beginning to see this man for what he really is and what he stands for. He can fool some people sometimes....
Listen to a recent Scottish Television interview with William Lobban where Ferris is threatening legal action over his bestselling autobiography. Needless to say, legal action never came. Why? http://news.stv.tv/west-central/259003-paul-ferris-taking-legal-advice-over-gangland-rivals-autobiography/
Read a recent book review by Scottish Books: http://www.scottishbooks.com/2014/11/the-glasgow-curse-by-william-lobban.html