Cardinal meets former gangster

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and a former East End gangster embraced last night in front of hundreds of people at Westminster Cathedral hall. The cardinal turned up unexpectedly to join several hundred people hear John Pridmore talk about his life and faith. John had been a notorious enforcer and drug dealer before undergoing a dramatic conversion in 1991 after nearly killing a man outside a pub outside a West End bar. He is currently touring parishes, schools, prisons and universities in the UK to promote his book From Gangland to Promised Land, which he wrote with Greg Watts, and which has been likened to St Augustine's Confessions and The Cross and the Switchblade. At the end of John's talk, an emotional Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor walked to the front of the hall and spoke of how inspired he was by John's frank story. "I would encourage everyone to buy this book," he said. John then knelt down and asked for the cardinal's blessing. John is attracting much media interest on the tour, which is organised by publishers and also features the up and coming band Raindown. He has appeared on BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio 2 and on ITV's London Tonight, and been the subject of features in a number of newspapers, including The Manchester Evening News and Yorkshire Post. From Gangland to Promised Land is fast becoming a best-seller. Over 5,000 copies were sold in the first two weeks, with WH Smith and most high street book shops placing orders. The publishers believe it will become a Christian classic. The book will be officially launched next week at The Blind Beggar pub in the East End, scene of a brutal gangland killing by the Krays in the 1960s. ` Former Eastenders star Michelle Collins will be a special guest. For details of other venues on John's tour, please go to www.

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