CANNABIS king Howard Marks lost his battle with bowel cancer yesterday aged 70.

Marks, once accused of running the world’s biggest dope smuggling empire, died at home near Bridgend, South Wales, where he grew up.

The dad of four stood trial at the Old Bailey in 1981 for importing 15½tons but was cleared after claiming to be a spy who infiltrated drug networks for MI6.

The US dubbed him Marco Polo and arrested him and his wife Judy at their Majorca farmhouse in 1988. He pleaded guilty to racketeering and served seven years, becoming a jailhouse lawyer and teacher.

Once freed, he returned to the UK and wrote books including his autobiography Mr Nice — one of his aliases.

Rhys Ifans starred in a 2010 film of the same name about the life of the Oxford physics graduate, who was described as having the voice of Richard Burton and looks of Mick Jagger.

Ex-gangster Fred Foreman said last night: “He was suffering terribly from his disease.

“It is a relief for his friends and family that he has now passed away.”