CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Cabinet Office Briefing Room A
In the windowless bunker room Prime Minister, Marcus Barclay, sat at the head of a long table. Either side of him sat the Cabinet Secretary, the two Intelligence chiefs, the Queen’s Private Secretary, the Commissioner and a stenographer. Guy sat alone opposite them. He fidgeted in his chair. A video wall of eight Intelligence screens filled the end of the room. It was technically called a bunker but the COBRA facility was actually on the first floor of the Cabinet Office and could be convened anywhere at the Prime Minister’s command.
The fact that he had been convened filled Guy with a foreboding of epic proportion. What was he doing here? He should be outside, guarding the door.
His mind went to the sedition trials of that other Guy who tried to blow up Parliament. He couldn’t remember plotting the overthrow of the Monarchy, or anyone else? Yet Barclay was pinning him with his I’ve Got Your Number stare across the table. The PM cleared his throat.
“I have called this crisis response committee because of grave concerns. Concerns the Intelligence staff and the Metropolitan Police share. There has been a breach of incalculable proportion from within the very heart of government. Inside Number Ten itself. What you are about to hear is classified. Only those in this room share the knowledge.”
Guy wondered. Perhaps he’d blundered into the wrong committee room?
The screen flashed up a picture. Then Guy knew instantly why he was there. The dead blonde, Marie Montague, smiled down on him. In the silence that followed the clock on the wall ticked like a nuclear countdown. Barclay continued.
“I have to tell you, this lady’s death has opened up a can of worms.”
The officers round the table said nothing. Barclay let the pause speak for itself.
“She infiltrated my private offices to elicit information. Knowledge that was passed on to a third party for gain. Fortunately, I spotted her ploy and informed the Intelligence services.”
Guy wanted to laugh. Like hell you did!
Barclay was watching him but Guy’s face was granite. The Commissioner took his cue from Barclay’s nod to continue the briefing. “She was blackmailed into acting for a foreign financier named Ibrahim Tolman. Her sister, Nicola, had been held by force to make Montague supply inside knowledge of the movements of the PM. The threat was of her sister’s murder. She had to supply a timetable of his meetings with the Queen. Before she could do so Marie Montague was murdered by an outside perpetrator. The murder was unconnected.”
Jeremy Chambers looked to Guy. “After the information you’ve given us we thought you should know, Royce. It was you who fingered him. He might come after you.”
Guy said, “Thanks, Commissioner. That was good of you. What was his motive?”
“A diabolical and deadly one. He was going to assassinate the Queen and the PM together at their next meeting. Montague would be forced to place an explosive charge in the PM’s royal dispatch box knowing security would not check it.”
Guy rocked back in his chair, his mind racing. “Why, Commissioner?”
“You met him, Guy. Why do you think?”
“He didn’t strike me as a lunatic. His Fund represents many enemies of Western governments. An assassination on this scale would offer him huge opportunities for wealth out of chaos. That’s what he specializes in.”
Chambers explained, his voice calm. “Tolman has a long history. A power breakdown destroyed a thousand tonnes of frozen Common Market beef, stored by the EEC locally. There was a catastrophic rise in beef prices overnight.”
“Was he ever charged?”
“There were no charges. Lack of evidence. He was guilty of it, we just couldn’t prove it. But that’s where it began. He bought out the surplus beef futures around Europe. You see, he knew it was going to happen. Tolman made as much as fifty million.”
Guy felt his face tightening. “This man Tolman has a lot to answer for, Commissioner.”
“Yes, he has. The murder of Nikki Montague; the attempted murder of photographer, Henrietta Fox and the smuggling conspiracies you reported.”
Guy was getting unsure of the direction they were taking. “Tolman planned to kill the Queen and the PM to make money in the huge crash that would follow?”
“Exactly, Royce. Ibrahim Tolman wouldn’t set off the bomb, but it would be by his command.”
Guy said. “His men are dead. Carlos, Marko, Jack Holborne.”
Commissioner Chambers waited. “The threat, Detective Inspector, is of Tolman trying again. You do realise the massive fallout such a crime would create? We would be evaluating the damage for a decade. He’d make billions with prior knowledge of it. And not just here in the Stock Market.”
Marcus Barclay expanded on the Commissioner’s theme. “Such a tragedy would be seen as a triumph in unfriendly parts of the world. Their markets would rise - he could make another fortune.”
Now Guy was curious. They were telling him too much. “Where is Tolman? Do we know?”
Chambers answered. “Jerusalem. He left in a private jet as the rescue on the river got under way.”
“We’re after him?”
The Commissioner hesitated, looking to the PM nervously. “Yes and no. Special Intelligence has spoken to the Israelis. There will be no announcements. The Press worldwide have been told nothing including the threat to the Head of State.”
“But you think Tolman will have to try again?”
Marcus Barclay held his eyes for a moment. “Yes, Guy. He has to. His investments must still be in place. He loses billions if his plan fails now. That’s where you come in, Royce.”
Guy knew there was more and kept his silence. They would tell him in their own way.
“The Israelis will only allow us an independent observer. I don’t think they’re telling us everything. They didn’t want to allow us even that. The Foreign Office insisted. They’re being very difficult.”
Guy posed the big question that had concerned him from the start. “Prime Minister, what’s my role in this?”
Barclay fixed him across the table. “You are promoted to Detective Superintendent. You will go to Jerusalem as an Officer acceptable to the Israelis. You know the case. Cobra has decided, with the Palace, you will be designated a Queen’s Messenger for the trip. Under diplomatic rules the Israelis can’t stop you. Report what you see to me. ”
The PM took a sharp breath, studying him closely. “Royce, see to it this man is treated with the utmost prejudice before he tries again.”