Article Title:Keep your legs together in front of the Queen
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:ABC Radio, Saturday AM, www.abc.net.au
Published on:11th October 2001 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:9
Text:When lesbian con Artists Evelyn Burton and Lyla Andre were found living in Auckland's Herne Bay two years ago, they were arrested and sent to Britain to face charges that they had conned millions out of the royal set and associates. After serving a jail sentence Andre has been extradited to her homeland, Australia. Burton is likely to follow early in the new year. But what were the women up to in Britain's upper-class set? The following is an edited transcript from an Australian ABC Radio Saturday AM interview conducted last month and a previous programme aired in February. Interviewer Matt Peacock: Whatever else you might say about Burton and Lyla Andre, they're a colourful couple. The pair persuaded toffy-nosed Britain's to part with [millions] as they lived the proverbial life of Riley before what the prosecutor described as a ruthless fraud began to unravel. 'They were thieves, first-class fraudsters, accomplished liars, and Australians', he said, with a rise of his eyebrow. That was six months ago. And the whip-wielding dominatrix Lyla has just been released back to Australia, leaving her lover, Evelyn, still serving some tough time at Her Majesty's prison. And although interviews aren't allowed within the prison, Evelyn still has something to say about the Royals, the butlers and the Bentleys, and above all, the British. Burton: They don't like Australians here. They hate Australians here. I mean, when we go back to Australia we're going to be saying 'righto, let's get away from the Commonwealth, let's get our own flag', because, really, Australians are not liked in England at all. Peacock: So, you're a convinced republican now, are you? Burton: Yeah, you bet. Now. We were royalists when we came here. Peacock: And why is that, after meeting the Queen? Burton: Look, the Queen herself is a really nice lady. I like her and I think she does a very difficult job well. But the people that surround her are not nice. Peacock: In what way? Burton: Well, they're all 'Do this. Do that.' I mean, the Queen herself wouldn't care if you turned up to see her, I'm sure, with the bum hanging out of your pants. But, you know, there's all these rules and regulations that are inflicted upon you by the people that surround her. And, to be quite honest with you, it's ridiculous. Like, we went to the anniversary dinner. And I haven't worn a dress in 30 years. But I couldn't wear pants. I had to wear a skirt, which was most uncomfortable. Peacock: So, what was that experience like? Burton: Not very good, dear, because I'm not used to sitting in a skirt all night, while they kept telling me to put my legs together. Peacock: When you arrived in London, tell me a bit about the sorts of people you were. You weren't exactly babes in the wood when you arrived here. Burton: No, no, no, no. We owned brothels. And we'd made millions of dollars out of brothels. I mean, we've millions of dollars in tax in Australia. This is what makes me angry. They make it sound like we came into this country with no money. That's baloney. And we came here and we thought we'd buy a nice big house and settle down here in England in this lovely, quiet, pretty - and it is a pretty - the countryside is very pretty. But the people are not very nice, unfortunately. Peacock: You did do it in style though. Burton: Oh, we did it in style. Had a Bentley and chauffeurs, and, I mean, we had 14 staff members. But when the press was chasing me, I had to stop up the road before we got home to Snarwell, and I'd hop in the boot of the car, and I would drive through the gates in this very expensive Bentley in the boot. Peacock: Why was that? Burton: Because the newspaper people were right across the driveway and hanging out of trees and things, and it was the only way I could get in and out of the front gate without being molested was to ride in the boot of the car. Peacock: This was to find out about the rich Australians who were taking the horsey set by... Burton: Initially nobody knew who we were. So, they said, 'Oh, they're royalty from Europe.' And that was wrong. Then we were TV stars at one stage, because they would ask the chauffeur and the butler. And, of course, they would say, 'I'm sorry, we're not at liberty to say'. Then at Newmarket one day we stepped out of the Bentley, and a woman come running up to Lyla and shoved this piece of paper in her hand, and said 'Oh Fergie, can you give me your autograph?' Now, I mean, Lyla might have red hair, but she'd only come up to Fergie's left nipple. From February ABC Radio programme: Peacock: As Burton and Andre winged into London first-class four years ago they had big plans. Burton: Darling, it's the only way to fly. Nobody flies - does anybody fly economy? Peacock: It wasn't all other people's money she used. There was a lot of it that was theirs too. She having owned a string of brothels back in Australia. But after checking into their luxury hotel, they set about hiring staff. Burton: We were giving the biggest wages in town. I mean, if you work for the Queen I think you get about GBP 3.02 a month - don't you? And all these people had worked for the Queen. So we were like little fairy godmothers. Peacock: A chauffeur, a butler, a Bentley then a Rolls. And soon they were buying stately homes and racehorses, donating prizes to Royal horse shows and even being presented to Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Their retainers were impressed by the wad of notes used to pay for the extravagant dinners as they consorted with the cream of the British horsy set. All up it's been calculated they persuaded them to part with nearly $AUS2 million. And, Evelyn concedes, they did have a good time. Burton: Well, we have had a good time. But a lot of the money was ours too. We too invested and we too had money when we came into this country. But if anybody comes into this country, beware. Tie it to your braces because you think they're crooks in America! They're terrific in England! Peacock: Two years ago it all came to an abrupt end, and the couple of nearly 20 years fled to New Zealand where they were caught and then extradited. Stephen Myers of the [British] Serious Fraud Squad: These two women were great personalities. People wanted to be with them. They wanted their time. They wanted to listen to them. They wanted their favour. They were enticed of course by the wealth that they seemed to display and the opportunities that they made available to their victims very skillfully, it has to be said. They didn't thrust them down their throat. They just gently reined in their victims and caught them in that way. Peacock: According Judge Peter Adler it was a highly successful fraud. But he said there was a certain ruthlessness - a sentiment that was echoed by the prosecuting silk, Patrick Upworth. Upworth: Burton in particular is one of the best fraudsters I've come across in a long time. Peacock: What struck you about the case the most? Upworth: Not so much the people who actually lost lots money, but the nastiness that was behind it all, the small people, they people that they employed - the butler and the chauffeur and so on who lost their jobs they lost their homes, some of them. One woman who was earning fifty thousand a year gave it all up to work for them. And she's lost that. She's been made bankrupt. And that's the story that wasn't really told that was behind all this. Peacock: You described them as thieves, accomplished liars, fraudsters and Australians! Upworth: That was tongue-in-cheek. And I'm sorry if that causes any offence. Peacock: Burton was sentenced to five years in prison, of which she will probably serve 18 months. Andre, described by her barrister as a highly discreet, high-class prostitute with a socially impressive clientele, was sentenced to nearly four years, which she will serve about 10 months of, with both women likely to appeal and both very anxious to return to Australia.     ABC Radio, Saturday AM, www.abc.net.au - 11th October 2001
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