John Haase was the career criminal who was behind a sensational plot to pervert the course of justice which threatened to embroil a serving home secretary.

A member of the city's feared transit mob robbery gang, Haase moved into the high risk world of international drug smuggling.

But after he became mired in a plot to flood the UK with Turkish heroin, Haase managed to persuade the authorities into releasing him and his relative Paul Bennett just over 12 months into their 18 year prison sentences.

Haase paid associates on the outside to plant weapons and even told police one of the arms dumps was linked to the IRA.

And Haase also created a story suggesting a Turkish crime boss was plotting to assassinate a serving customs officer, which led to a major security scare.

The north Liverpool crook later set up a security company which was the perfect front for his criminality, but the police were closing in.

Suleyman Ergun, a former associate of Haase, once said the Liverpool man was a 'real life Scarface', comparing the Liverpool man to the character played by Al Pacino in Brian De Palms's early 80s crime movie.

Although Haase and Bennett have now been released from prison on licence after serving long sentences for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, their exploits in the 1990s have entered into criminal folklore.

Back in December 2018, the ECHO revealed the full story of how Haase was behind a terrifying death threat to a serving customs officer's family.

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Liverpool MP angered that hardened criminals were released 'so soon'

Peter Kilfoyle, who was an MP for Walton at the time, then began to ask why a convicted drug dealer had been released from prison 17 years early only to return to Liverpool and become involved in more serious organised crime.

After a complex police investigation it emerged that Haase had paid criminals to plant the weapons across Merseyside in order to dupe the authorities.

Haase and Bennett were then jailed for life, after it emerged they had orchestrated a plot to pervert the course of justice on an unprecedented scale.

John Haase has an exchange of words with Mirror reporters in 1996

The death threat to Paul Cook's family

The ECHO has now seen a copy of the affidavit Haase signed while he was at HMP Whitemoor, in which he admits he was behind the death threat to Paul Cook.

He said: "We started the rumour that The Vulcan, the Turkish heroin dealer, was going to put a hit on Cooks' family because they tried to get the Turks to testify against The Vulcan, who was the main man they wanted, but the police said that the Turks were too terrified to give evidence, so me and Bennett said that there was a hit on Cook's family and he went to the witness protection programme."

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Customs officer feared for his life

Mr Cook later told a court how seriously the threat to his life was taken.

Mr Cook stood trial at Kingston Crown Court in 2012 when he was accused of assisting Haase's plot.

He told the court that there had been a threat to his life from a Turkish criminal called The Vulcan, who had his home address.

Speaking in court during the trial Mr Cook said: "I had two young daughters, a vocation in life and meaning, something I thought whilst I can't change the world I can change certain aspects. And my wife had her job as well.

"It would mean never seeing my mother again unless under controlled circumstances and the children learning to live with new identities when they were only nine and 10.

"It was many many sleepless nights thinking what to do. I'm not afraid to say I was scared.

"I am not a hero but if you run away, you are a coward.

"I was brought up in the back streets of Leeds and dad said you shouldn't run away from bullies."

Mr Cook added: "We are talking about Turkish organised and serious Liverpool criminals who have your address.

"You are not going to take that and carry on your life."

Mr Cook, who denied charges of conspiring to pervert the course of public justice and misconduct in a public office, was cleared of any wrong doing by the court. There is no suggestion he did anything wrong.

Issue date: Wednesday November 19, 2008. Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police Service of Paul Bennett,44, of no fixed address but from the Merseyside area, who was sentenced today at London's Southwark Crown Court to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Paul Bennett and his uncle John Haase, who received 22 years, repeatedly "tipped-off" the authorities about arms stashes across the country. The two drug barons, who previously escaped lengthy prison sentences by pretending to be supergrasses, were put back behind bars for even longer today. See PA story COURTS Pardon. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire .

Arrested by armed police in London

In the document Haase tells the inside story of how he pulled off a ruse that ultimately caused major embarrassment to a Conservative government which had pledged to fight serious crime .

Haase began recalling the terrifying moment he was arrested by heavily armed police in central London as the authorities began to close in their Turkish mafia drug gang.

He said: "Me and Bennett knew the s*** had hit the fan sort of thing and two hours later me and Bennett were in Wales where Bennett had a caravan on the site.

"We made a lot of phone calls telling everyone we were in Wales and then left Wales and headed to London to meet the Turks to let them know it was on top for everyone.

"That night me and Bennett stayed in a hotel in London. The next morning we left the hotel about 11am and on the high street two white vans rammed us and there were machine guns smashed through the side window of the car and we were arrested."

John Haase threatens Mirror journalists in the 1990s

The deal

He then revealed the background to the controversial arrangement he came to with customs officials, in which he began providing information about weapons' dumps on Merseyside.

He said:" I was arrested in July 1992 in London, taken back to Liverpool and charged after a day or two of investigations and interrogations with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

"I was placed on remand, Category A, in Walton prison Liverpool.

"Also with me was my co-accused Paul Bennett, my nephew.

"All my other co-accused were in Walton prison.

"On my first visit from my solicitor I asked them to get in touch with the head man of the customs who was involved in my case.

"My solicitor said he would see what he could do and get back to me.

"After about a week or so he got back to me and said that a visit had been arranged at Walton prison to see this man- his name was Paul Cook.

"The visit took place in Walton prison with my solicitor and Paul Cook.

"When Mr Cook arrived I asked him straight away what's the chance of doing a deal? He asked me what I meant.

"I said information in return for a reduced sentence.

"He asked me what type of information.

"I said I could supply all types of information on drugs, guns, anything.

"He said he would have to go away and talk to people and get back to me.

"This was like the end of the meeting. He came to Walton prison again. I then mentioned that I would like my nephew Paul Bennett brought into this, he said no at first.

"I said I would like him to be brought in because Bennett knows an awful lot more than me information wise. At the time I was brand new to the drugs game and Bennett had been in it for a long time."

AK47s and Uzi sub-machine guns

Haase then talks about using criminals on the outside to buy firearms.

He said : "When me and Bennett got nicked we had over 50k of brown heroin which is worth £1.150m.

"Bennett already had a couple of hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash and so did I so we had plenty of money.

"No favours were done- we paid for everything, machine guns, AKs, hand pistols.

"When we were first getting the machine guns they were £2k, but later on, when we were getting them in 10s, the price was reduced.

John Haase
John Haase when he was in charge of Liverpool security company Big Brother

"I can confirm that some of the guns which I bought had originated from a police depository - that is they had been confiscated by the police in previous crimes.

"A lot of them were coming in from Eastern Europe, especially the AK's.

"All the guns were spot on. I was getting them and telling people where to put them so that I could inform Customs and Excise of where they could be found. It was a con all the way, but for some reason they were delighted to get guns off the streets."

The IRA connection?

Haase also reveals the details of a massive weapons haul which was set up to suggest a link with the Provisional IRA.

It reads: "The next one was one of the big ones they were all drooling at.

"Someone went to Ireland, got an address over there, newspapers and pubs, cigarette stumps, all bits and pieces.

Liverpool's criminal underworld exposed

"A car we bought in Liverpool, that was booked through the travel agency in Alderhay, booked onto the Holyhead ferry, thousands of pounds of ammunition on it, rifles etc, that was parked in Holyhead car park, newspapers and cigarette stumps in the car, and the keys were left in the back wheel.

"The car was full of rifles and thousands of pounds worth of ammunition. We told the customs about it, MI5 sat off and observed the car for three days before they hit it. That cache was planted by me and Bennett to give the impression there was an IRA connection. This was a total fabrication. "

Tory Home Secretary Michael Howard

Michael Howard speaking at the Conservative Party conferennce in October 1994 Pic Daily Mirror

In the affidavit, Haase claimed that he paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to then Home Secretary Michael Howard to secure his release from prison.

The claims, which have been heard before, were later exposed as pure lies.

He said : "The next thing Paul Bennett said 'I reckon we've got a deal on' and it was X amount of money.

"When I asked him how much he said 400K. At the time it didn't phase me because as I said before our bank account was £1m to play with and we still had a lot left after buying the guns."

Haase and Bennett have now been released from prison on licence.