Questions over council’s promotion of Howard Marks show

The Labour group leader said on Monday night that “serious questions” have to be raised over Dundee City Council’s “hypocritical” decision to endorse a stand-up routine by a former drugs trafficker.

Councillor Kevin Keegan told The Courier he was very concerned by news that An Evening with Mr Nice — Howard Marks was being backed by the local authority.

The controversial figure — who was sentenced to 25 years in America’s toughest federal penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana for smuggling vast quantities of hashish into Europe, the US and Canada — will perform his routine at Marryat Hall on Sunday.

However, Mr Keegan has said he is shocked the council is not only renting premises to the world’s one-time most wanted man but is actively promoting the event.

“The council needs to review its policy on who it rents its space to,” he said. “A one-time drug dealer will have affected many people and their families to their detriment and it’s not the kind of influence that Dundee should be promoting.”

He said he would be raising the issue with the chief executive and other senior officers.

He added it was a “strange” move by the council which spends “thousands” on combating the city’s drug culture.

“He may be a reformed character but as a councillor we are paid to set an example,” Mr Keegan added. “However, tickets to his show are costing £14 and we are helping this man make a profit. Maybe we should be thinking about the lives he’s wrecked?

“We spend so much money trying to teach the people of Dundee about the dangers of drugs through the social work department and education. When you look at the police and the health service and how much money comes out of the public purse to fight drugs, I think it starts to look hypocritical on behalf of the council.

“Here we try to do things with morals and ethics in mind and yet we are advocating this colourful individual. I don’t believe there has been much thought given to this decision.

“We need to consider what message folk are delivering and I think we have got it wrong.”

Originally from Wales, Howard Marks attended Oxford University, where he earned a degree in nuclear physics and a postgraduate qualification in philosophy.

At the height of his drug career he was said to control 10% of the world’s hashish trade.

In 1996, following a seven-year stint behind bars, he released his autobiography Mr Nice, which remains and international bestseller in several languages and was the biggest-selling non-fiction book of 1997.

He is a campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis and claims he has refused to deal with hard drugs.