Tim Manhire, SEACOP – Obituary

It is with great sadness that we have to report the sudden death on 29 December 2014 of Tim Manhire, the SEACOP team leader. As many of you know Tim had led the SEACOP project for four years, after retiring from UK law enforcement where he had spent a distinguished career as a maritime drug trafficking expert. This gave him the necessary knowledge and expertise to lead SEACOP with authority.

Tim was born on 14 March 1952 and spent his early career working from a VAT office in Norwich. From there he joined the Investigation Division of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMCE), in the mid-1970s. During his time with HMCE he was engaged in investigating diverse criminality, from VAT fraud through to drug trafficking. However his real expertise and passion was in the field of maritime operations. He rubbed shoulders with senior military figurers ranging from Captains and Admirals to high-ranking staff in the Ministry of Defence, and was never afraid to speak frankly and with authority to all of them.

He also enjoyed working abroad and was posted as a DLO to both Jamaica and New York – where he was the first DLO to be provided with a snow blower! How typical of Tim! A great raconteur, he has often recalled the occasion in Jamaica when the England cricket team were on tour in the West Indies and visited the High Commission, where he was based. Typically Tim regaled them with stories about drug trafficking and then invited them back to his house for a barbecue. They all turned up! What a coup, and the following week, in a restaurant which he had recommended, he was entertaining senior HMCE staff over dinner when several of the England cricket team walked in and immediately made a bee-line to say hello to him. He was never sure whether the senior management were impressed or whether they were left wondering if he did any work! Actually, knowing Tim there was no doubt that he thought they were impressed!

He was the first Drugs Liaison Officer (DLO) from HM Customs to visit Cuba in the early 90s and it was on this trip that he was invited to go lobster fishing by the Cubans. When he was later asked how you fish for lobster Tim’s reply was “Easy, dear boy. You sit on a big chair with a large mojito and a big cigar and say to the diver ‘Fetch me a lobster!’ Ha-ha!” I’m sure many of us can still hear him!

In line with a number of colleagues Tim moved to join the newly created Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in 2006 and continued his involvement in maritime drugs investigations. This culminated in 2008 with a secondment as its Director to the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (North) based in Lisbon. MAOC(N) was a newly created analytical centre with representatives from law enforcement agencies in Europe and Tim put it firmly on the map as a professional and well-informed unit.

He also had a passion for Harley Davidson’s, but not just ordinary Harley’s. His pride and joy was always immaculate and came loaded with the very best of optional extras – including a reverse gear! Sadly he had only just taken delivery of his latest model when he passed away. As membership officer of the Southampton Harley Owners’ Group he was proud to be a HOG and as a mark of their total respect for him they will form an escort for the cortege at his funeral on 22 January.

Tim always spoke with authority based on years of experience and it was gratifying to listen to him speak at conferences when his presentations were always punchy and never dull! He was not one to rely on statistics, figures and spreadsheets when there were stimulating and compelling photos which had a far greater impact! He relied on personal experience of the drug traffickers and their methodologies, gleaned as a result of years in the operational field, arresting and interviewing the bad guys and constantly increasing and enhancing his knowledge of maritime drugs trafficking.

He leaves a loving and supportive wife Sandra, and two grown-up daughters, Lucy and Jo and son – in law Matthew. He will be sorely missed.