Also Featured In

    Like what you read? Donate now and help us provide fresh news and analysis for our readers   

(C) Underbelly Magazine 2018

Britain’s Leading Ex-offender Expert on Prisons

Mark Leech was born in the City of  Manchester, England, in October 1957.

At the age of eight, on the death of his mother, Mark was taken into ‘Care’ where for four years he, along with many others, suffered serious sexual abuse in what became known as the Cheshire Child Care Homes Scandal for which officials were later jailed; the abuse created in Mark an angry young man with a deep-rooted distrust of anyone in authority.

Like many Care-leavers he later became involved in crime serving 14 years in a prison career that was characterised by rooftop protests, riots, assaults, and over 40 successful legal battles against the prison authorities fought in every legal arena from the County Court all the way to the House of Lords, where he changed British prison law in the process.

Mark’s disruptive behaviour saw him transferred to 62 of Britain’s prisons, from Inverness in the north of Scotland to Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight.

A two-week protest on the roof of Long Lartin maximum security prison saw him spend 11 months on The Ghost Train, moved at monthly intervals to maximum security prison segregation units around the country until, in 1988, having been taken to the ultimate in prison disciplinary measures and still remained defiant, he landed at Grendon Underwood prison in Buckinghamshire – Britain’s only ‘therapeutic prison’.

Based on Group Therapy, Grendon is often seen as ‘a soft option’ by those who misunderstand its concepts – but it was a prison that was destined to change his life.

“Of all the prisons I went to” Mark was later to write, “Grendon was the hardest prison of all, because there I was made to confront myself, not the prison authorities – it was two years of a painfully searching self-scrutiny and what I found was not a pleasant sight – things had to change and I was the only one who could do it.”

In another description of Grendon prison Mark was later write “it was the prison that took my head off, and then screwed it back on the right way around.”

At Grendon Prison Mark discovered a talent for writing, and while at Grendon he became the first Prisons Correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, for whom he still writes today.

Mark also wrote three award-winning plays – “The Facts Speak For Themselves“ Directed by Ned Chaillet was a 90-minute courtroom drama for BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Night Theatre, that won him the BBC Radio Drama Award.

The BSC Annual Conference 2020 will be in Liverpool


Criminology in an Age of Global Injustice(s)

8-10 July 2020 (There will be a postgraduate event on July 7th)

The conference will be hosted by the University of Liverpool.

The website is now open and the call for papers will close on Monday 16th March 2020.

Registration – Early bird packages for the conference are available to book, with the standard registration opening on Wednesday 15th April 2020.


Unfinished Business: Putting the conspiracy to rest Paperback – 25 Oct 2018

by Paul Ferris (Author), Stuart Wheatman (Author), Steve Wraith (Author)

This explosive book takes up where the late Reg McKay left off. Paul Ferris sets the record straight in his no-holds-barred account of his past criminal life, emerging as a true survivor in what was (literally) a cut throat business. An uncompromising story of a life of crime, the aftermath of leaving that life behind has followed Ferris like a black cloud. Putting those demons to rest and elaborating on The Ferris Conspiracy, Paul delivers another true story of power, corruption and the struggle to survive in one of our toughest cities.

This is a book we highly recommend to our readers. The anti-bullying message within the pages could be a massive help to all those out there who have suffered at the hands of bullies at a young age. The writers have shown the physiological effects that bullying can cause. Paul, Steve and Stuart have joined forces to put together a book that highlights not only the effects of bullying but also shows how bitter and twisted the forces of law and order can be. A well-written book that will be used as a tool for social history researchers and those studying the physiological effect bullying can cause. They have also managed to make certain chapters in the book extremely humorous while making it a fitting tribute to the late Reg McKay.

A must-read for all true crime fans and also those who study what causes people to turn to violence.

Underbelly True Crime rating....10/10