Monday, 13 August 2012

Bitter Together: 9. The 'Little Porridge Pot' goes into overdrive.

Dinwoodie looked at the growing dossier of information and the white board mapping of the links and cross links between all the players so far identified by his personal team. He was now certain Cambourne did not mean this to happen, had realised at the last gasp the danger he had unleashed and sought to stop 'Cockleshell'. It was equally clear that Sir Nigel, in his attempts to prevent the end result coming back to Cambourne and himself had so effectively created autonomous cells with no feedback loops that any attempt to stop any one leg of the operation was doomed from the start.

The SIS had been blind sided having wound up their operation only to see it going off anyway. The SAS leg was predicated on the Olympic Aquatic Centre attack and the 'Your a Tube' video being released. Of course if the SIS had successfully wound up their operation then the attack on the pylons would not have gone ahead - no aquatic bomb, no video, no pylon attack. This left Murphy as the originator of the attack on the Olympic Aquatic Centre. Murphy would certainly not have known about the pylon attack or the trigger for it. Murphy was only intending to cause a bit of embarrassment and send a warning, but to who?

Dinwoodie had been a very good investigative journalist in his day and having researched the links between the Home Office, SIS and the non existent SNLA could see the pattern and how it was originally designed to physically crush the life out of the SNP and 'Yes to Independence' campaigns. Dinwoodie now started thinking with his head, rather than his testicles, looking to see how he could turn this whole affair to his political advantage. He saw if he played his cards right he would not end up as the last Secretary of State for Scotland, a Tory stool pigeon, but as the only Westminster politician that sought to address the stated wish of the Scots for autonomy within a new UK Union. The problem for Dinwoodie was how long could he keep all this within his own team before someone in Scottish Office decided it needed to be leaked. On the other hand the civil service whispers game could be used to his benefit and let it be known that Dinwoodie now had information that would be damaging to all three party leaders on the 'Cockleshell' balls up and see which worms came out from under which stones.

The Independent's chief political editor turned the CD, in front of him, over and over as if he was trying to see what was on the disc with out actually putting it in his computer. The Independent's IT security people said it was virus free. Security had checked with the originating addressee to be sure they were actual solicitors and had been told there would be more discs if the political response to the initial disc required it. Still the political editor incessantly turned the disc over and over in his hands. With all the fuss and furore going around with regards to the complete disaster of the Olympic opening ceremony his water was telling him that looking at the content of this CD on screen would cast him head first into the maelstrom and make him a potential target. Yet the old journalist sniffed a big story, the disc caused his news antennae to twitch convulsively. In for a penny, he thought to himself as he put the disc into the reader and waited to see what sort of a Pandora's Box he had fallen in with.

Stanhope reported directly to the Met's Anti-terrorism Commissioner, he watched as the chief read and re-read the transcripts, shaking his head and muttering 'Oh Fuck' repeatedly to himself like a mantra as if it would drive away the horror story that was present in front of him. He looked at Stanhope and stuffed the file with the originals into his desk bottom drawer then said, "Not a fucking word to anyone, not a fucking whisper -  who else knows apart from me, you and the professor? No one? Well let's just keep it that fucking way until I have had time to consult with colleagues. Now get the fuck out and close the door behind you!"

The commissioner was now in a quandary whether to uphold the law or protect his backside; with this evidence there was no middle way. He moved the file from the drawer, where it was burning a hole, to his personal safe; locked it tight shut and wished he could forget the combination. If more information of this sort came to light he was going to have to arrest the prime minister on an 'aiding and abetting' terrorism charge along with the head of the SIS and which ever SAS brain had masterminded their end of the whole 'Cockleshell' debacle. For now there would be no consultation he would sit on it until Stanhope brought the next lot back on Friday afternoon. Thank God Stanhope had the sense to hand courier the information, he thought, otherwise, with the IT leaks at Scotland Yard, this would be in the Evening Standard by now. The commissioner did not realise was that Stanhope had taken a copy of the documents and was hiding them securely in his safe at home. Stanhope knew a shit storm when he saw one and this storm had the potential to grow to hurricane force.

The Independent's political editor read the file before him with growing disbelief. This was a scanned copy of an original Internal Affairs document, of that there could be no doubt. It was clearly marked for the prime minister's eyes only, authored by Sir Nigel de Woodehead, secret. What it was, was the original operation order for an Operation called 'Cockleshell' the nature and aims of which were crisply defined:

  1. To entrap the SNP in terrorism charges
  2. To arrest the SNP leadership for aiding and abetting terrorism
  3. To stop the Scottish Independence movement dead in its track

  1. Re ignite the spectre of the Scottish National Liberation Army
  2. Cause sufficient damage to shared assets in a manner which brings Britain behind Westminster full square to stop the independence movement
  3. Rip the heart out of the SNP political machine once and for all
  4. Shut down Holyrood and the Scottish Parliament

As the political editor's eyes travelled down the screen page, the details of the Government Agencies to be used, their orders, funding requirements, potential targets became ever more complex. It appeared that the trigger for Cockleshell was to be if for three months in a row support for Scottish Independence grew to over 55% using highly sensitive, statistical analysis of secret polling undertaken by a specialist polling agency - who also happened to have the prime minister listed as a major shareholder according to the whistle blower CD.

He called the chief editor, "Andrew, I need you to come down to my office now, we need to talk and quickly as you may well wish to change the front page for the London edition. I have something which is potentially explosive." The chief editor looked at the screen with a mixture of delight and dismay there was potential to bring down the current Tory Government but the knock on effect would be Scotland leaving the Union. His owners and friends in the New Labour Party would not thank him for that - giving the SNP they congenitally loathe a coup that would leave New Labour in the political wilderness in England. On the other hand some one had to run the story. In a flash he said the information should be handed over to their sister Sunday, the Observer, as it would be better as an in depth political expose type of piece.

When the information arrived on the chief editor of the 'Observers' desk he instantly decided that to run the story was the end of the New Labour Party, not because of the political fall out but on the loss of all those New Labour MP's from Scotland who could well be the difference in the inevitable general election that it would be forced to be held on the brink of the Scottish Independence referendum. This story would hand the SNP and Yes campaign an easy referendum victory. This would knock for ever his chance to run the headline "Three Ed's are better than one Cambourne." The Union had to be preserved because as he understood the figures without the Scots there would be a 40% hole in the positive foreign exchange balance. A hole that for all its hubris the City of London would never fill. Especially as they were preparing a piece for the next edition on how the 'City' had been clearing funny money for the Iranians, in spite of the internationally agreed freeze on Iran's overseas assets. Another greedy banker story to add to all the other stories since 2008 and the Gordon Brown induced fiscal tsunami.

Up in Glasgow the owners of the Herald had taken cold feet at the increased number of their journalists going native and writing pro-independence pieces. To counteract this they ditched their previous political editor and brought in the Chief Political editor of the Retard to right these disabused journalists thinking on the importance of the Union. Mr Sentry had been famed at the Retard for his unthinking nonsensical rants about the SNP in his attempt to be an even more rabid Unionist than his counterpart writing on Scottish Matters in the Torygraph, the 'Abominable Cockburn'. As far as Mr Sentry was concerned, forget accuracy, just fling dirt as hard and fast as you can at the SNP as some was bound to stick. It was this brilliant sense of fair reporting on Scottish political issues he was now applying to the wishy-washy Herald Journo's. It came to a point where the Herald was left as the only Scottish broadsheet to agree with New Labour's Scottish shadow's complaint about BBC Scotland's bias in favour of the SNP. Even the deeper Tory blue Hootsmon could not swallow this, nor the O'Halloran's misogynistic attack on the female BBC presenter who was interviewing him. To Scottish main stream media watchers it was clear the Union side was in ever increasing meltdown and as sure as 'eggs are eggs' it was directly related to 'Cockleshell'. This growing stench of fear in the Unionist camp was not helped by one of their own suggesting that only offering the Scots a 'Yes / NO' option on the referendum was tantamount to political suicide and the sudden appearance of a grouping called 'Scottish Labour for Independence'. The counterattack from New Labour that it was a site set up by the SNP 'cybernats' fell to bits when the owner of the Farctbrick page and 'Labour for Independence' web site was pictured with his current Labour and Unison membership cards on the BBC Scotland item which tried to kill the story on him and his views. New Labour's next move was to try to get the author kicked out of Unison when they realised they had no means of kicking him out of Scottish Labour as he was representing the views of his local CA who had taken a legitimate and open vote on the issue. John Smith House was less than impressed when their main Union funder told them, on the matter of independence, the Scottish branch was taking a neutral position. Daphne McLung, as New Labour's Scottish 'leader', was coming under pressure from Scottish feminists groups to disown O'Halloran. In the mean time O'Hallorhan was coming under pressure from Murphy and Murphy's patrons to give them early notice of the remaining Commonwealth games contracts that were still to be bid for, or maybe a wee bird might twitter in someone's shell like, "' it widnae be a cockleshell either, pal." as the phone went down on the singularly, one sided conversation.

The First Minister sat in her cabinet listening with half an ear to the current discussion while thinking over what next to do with the information so far discovered about 'Cockleshell'. Seonidh was all for a trickle down approach of steady leaks, a 'much soft rain wears the marble' approach but something was causing Grayling 's political antennae to twitch and saying 'just hud yer wheesht' and stick with the, 'We are waiting for Downing Street and Westminster to hold their investigations and tell us what went wrong'. There was enough information in the public domain to ensure any mention of 'Cockleshell' was enough to raise another stushy in the online blogs across the political spectrum which was far more effective in keeping the profile high than the main stream media. We have a good idea, now, what happened in the 'Cockleshell' disaster so let us just sit back and watch how deep Westminster can dig its own hole over this. They are doing such a good job, they do not need any help.

"Do you agree, First Minister?"
"Sorry miles away for a moment ...  are we still on about wind farms?"

Grindstone monitored the Independent's on line edition and noted the lack of any article on 'Cockleshell'. He E-mailed his solicitors to send the second package to Independent Radio News. The establishment was already, clearly, hard at work covering each other's backsides but somewhere the dam would crack under the pressure of one of Grindstone's political bouncing bombs and the leaks would begin quickly followed by the information dam's total collapse. Tired out from this morning's work he walked to St Mark's Square for a well earned glass of Prosseco and a pastry.

Dinwoodie made a call to his journalist friend on the Herald only to be asked to call him back on his mobile in five minutes. Dinwoodie asked why the need for secrecy only to be told about Sentry's appointment and the new political editorial line that anything other than SNP bashing would not see the light of day in the Herald. That's a pity Dinwoodie said to his friend because I have a rather interesting tale to tell about New Labour in Scotland, organised crime and potentially illegal land dealing. Really his friend said can you give me a steer as I know the Herald will not take the article but there are a couple of excellent on line 'newspapers' that will. The one I am thinking about has over 60,000 original ID hits a day. Dinwoodie asked what that meant in old fashioned circulation terms. His friend replied that it was as near as dam it a daily circulation of 60,000 copies. Dinwoodie quickly worked out this was the same circulation as the Hootsmon and Herald combined. Can you give me your personal E-mail address as I do not think this should go anywhere near your Herald desk? His friend replied he would text it to him, on this number? Yes, replied Dinwoodie, its as good as any. Within ten minutes all the information Dinwoodie had on New Labour in Scotland, Cockleshell and the rest was on his way to his friend, anonymously, of course. Time for Dinwoodie to sit back and see who or what this would bring knocking on his door, he had touched light to the blue paper and now it was time to enjoy the fireworks.

Stanhope was wondering just what the Met Commissioner had done with the transcripts. He was certain it was nothing, as the Commissioner's hope of being the next head of the Met was reliant on not upsetting his political bosses in the Home Office or Downing Street. A position that was not possible if the Commissioner acted as a policeman rather than a politician. Helen, the SOCCO, had somehow guessed there was a bit more to do with Stanhope heading Pembrokeshire-wards early, than just picking up the information. Her woman's intuition detected the signs as he left, cleanly showered and shaved wearing a freshly ironed shirt, a pressed pair of jeans and polished brown shoes. There was also a slight hint of aftershave, a product she knew he rarely, if ever used. Well, she thought to herself, if he and the Prof are hitting it off good luck to them, it was about time he had a hobby other than the police.

"Marie, I'm on the Southern Severn Crossing as long as there are no hold up around Newport or Cardiff should be with you in a couple of hours."
"I trust your are using 'handsfree', constable, because that is what you will need to use when you get here." Marie laughed delightedly at his stuttering response as she put the phone down. I just hope the excitement doesn't cause him to crash she thought.

The news editor of Independent Radio News listened to the discs for a third time, in conjunction with the sworn and notarised affidavit that had come with them. To him it was dynamite and his public duty to ensure this got airtime. He spent an hour editing and copying the sound bites across and in the end had a five minute piece including his own voice over. He arranged for the piece to be networked across the UK's Independent news feeds at 6pm, during the main news, but insisted that the sound file was not to be touched by any of the subs and was embargoed until it went out. He had waited a long time to get the chance to put out an un spun political piece, there was no chance a leak was going to get it 'D' listed. He then set to, to write the web site news page to go along with the radio report. This was not going to be a white wash like the banks, this was going to be Westminster's 'Watergate' moment.

Stanhope was only a couple of miles from Marie's when the story broke on Pembroke Radio. He listened with amazement to the original recordings which Marie had painstakingly translated. The news reporter was very clear in his assertion that the phone sound tapes proved with out doubt Whitehall's complicity in 'Cockleshell' including clear evidence the plot was originated by Sir Nigel de Woodehead. There was a sworn and notarised affidavit which had arrived with the sound files that claimed approval had been given by the Prime Minister himself. For an instance he wondered if Marie had leaked the files but realised they would have been in Klingon and not plain speech. he pondered for a moment if he should contact Independent News channel to tell them the Met had a copy but as quickly rejected that as it would be self incriminating. What would be far more interesting is to see just how the Met Commissioner played the game. If it was as a policeman Stanhope would stay 'schtuum' but if it was political then a whole cart load would hit the commissioner's fan. He turned into Marie's drive with a clear head and conscience, switched off his mobile phone and decided the police force owed him some, well - in reality - a lot of, downtime. Marie was at the door smiling as he presented her with flowers, chocolates and a bottle of Piper Hiesdeck champagne ...... Oh you shouldn't have squealed Marie .... I hope this is just a down payment. With that they entered the house and closed the rest of the world outside for some quality time on their own, well once Stanhope had been slobbered to death by Marie's dogs.

Grayling heard a recording of the same news clip and simply said to Seonidh, time to take the gloves off.

In Whitehall and Downing Street 'Operation Denial' went into full swing while Dinwoodie felt a bit despondent at first but then thought, some time tomorrow a few hundred gallons of petrol would be poured on this particular fire via an internet news site to create a decent sized conflagration.

In the Observer's Chief Editor's officer there was a sudden re-think about containment of the story. They now needed to pull the story together from their source material before they lost the chance. A quick call to the Chief editor of the Independent ensured there would be front page column inches to run a taster that night prior to the full expose in the Observer on Sunday.

Grindstone turned on the BBC 24 Hour News as he came out of the shower to see a ticker tape breaking news story that top Whitehall Civil Servants other than the junior originally accused were involved in 'Cockleshell' according to an independent news report. Downing Street was denying any involvement and maintaining it was a single renegade civil servant. Grindstone waited with interest until the news reader stated what was known and the additional 'titbit' that Reuter's understood the Independent Newspaper was about to release further details about 'Cockleshell' in their next edition. Grindstone smiled, went down to dinner and had a bottle of the excellent Montepulchiano 2007 with a hint of sea salt in the finish. Later he booked himself a flight from Venice Airport to Doha, onwards to the Seychelles and a room in the Reef Hotel on the quiet side of the main island of Mahe. He had always fancied learning to play golf and it appeared the hotel did a golf coaching package. He settled his bill and organised transport direct to the airport by boat and car for early on Friday. By midday on Friday he would be beyond Whitehall's grasp. By evening, sitting on a hotel veranda over looking the Indian Ocean. For devilment he used his Natwest debit card to buy chocolates, for the room maid, in a small shop in the side streets off Venice's main tourist thorough fare in the Arsenale district. A local had told him how to find the shop and how the chocolates were hand made, using only natural flavourings.

On Thursday afternoon Hampshire Police's investigating team final got a hold of Grindstone's bank transactions it was clear that he had not withdrawn a penny since the Monday on the Natwest debit card. As far as his debit card and Natwest credit card were concerned he had fiscally disappeared in Basle. In old fashioned terms, the police were now, clearly, puzzled.

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