Ten years have passed since my father's tragic death. He had been suffering from depression since early 2012 and during the acute phases of his illness, spent much time in hospital. Sir Jonothan responded positively to electroplexy and this treatment stabilised his condition for several months at a time before the gradual re-emergence of depressive symptoms. It was during such a relapse, and a week before he was due to go back into hospital that he took his own life using a cocktail of anti-depressants, analgesics and copious amounts of brandy. I do not wish to comment any further.
Until I had read my father's revelations, I had no inkling that he was the chairman of The Inner Cadre. This confessional - a typescript composed shortly before his suicide - highlights two events; the demise of the Scottish Parliament, and the death of Prince Adrian, Duke of Mercia. Extracts from this document are appended to the end of my account.
By late 2007, following a long list of policy failures and scandals which culminated in the simultaneous forced resignations of Tom Spooner and Sir Hugh Catering in June that year, the Prime minister was receiving treatment for depression and rarely appeared in public, let alone Westminster. His deputy, the charismatic yet astute Sidney Plumstone assumed Terry Bright's mantle with great great effectiveness and skill. Early in March 2008, Terry Bright resigned, and by general consent Sidney Plumstone moved to 10 Downing Street.
At the end of March Sidney Plumstone delivered a stern rebuke to the Civil Service during a House of Commons debate on the New Official Secrets Bill, which was receiving its second reading. This august body was accused of wilfully obstructing government business and regularly failing to consult with ministers, let alone seek their approval on operational matters. Specific mention was made of the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, where relations between ministers and civil servants were virtually non-existent. At the end of his speech, Sidney Plumstone gave a clear hint that the Civil Service would be subjected to a major investigation in order to improve its efficiency.
In fact, although unknown to all but the investigation team, which comprised officials from the National Audit Office and the Metropolitan Police's Fraud Squad, the new Prime Minister ordered the inquiry within twenty-four hours of taking office. All the information assembled went directly to the PM's Office via a special messenger service: such was the need for discretion during the early stages of the investigation that computerised data transmission and storage was deemed too risky.
By the time the announced 'major investigation' was launched in June 2008 (following yet another arms sales fiasco - this time involving shipments of proscribed land-mines to a particularly odious régime on the African west coast), sufficient evidence was already available to implicate Paul Phillips, one of the top civil servants at the Department of Trade and Industry. Two months later, he was arrested and charged with violating United Nations Arms Embargo No. 98/13, by specifically facilitating the sale of land-mines to the West African People's Republic of Gomorrhe.
The real break-through which led to The Inner Cadre's exposure came in January 2009, when Sarah Arbuthnot, Security Adviser at the Home Office turned Queen's Evidence. Miss Arbuthnot had served with distinction in MI5, and was awarded the George Cross in 1988 when, as a young operative on duty in Northern Ireland, she saved the lives of four fellow agents during a bungled cross-border surveillance mission.
It was nearly twenty-one years later when, arriving home after a late evening debate in the House of Commons, Sidney Plumstone was confronted by a tearful Sarah Arbuthnot. During that snow-lashed winter night, he was presented with details relating to illegal activities perpetrated by The Inner Cadre. It later transpired that two days before that fateful meeting, she had made a full confession to her father, Admiral Sir Charles Arbuthnot, and the wisdom of old-age prevailed over the instinctive reaction of disowning her. His daughter was given an ultimatum: if Sarah did not inform the Prime minister of these dreadful events within forty-eight hours, then he would. sir Charles was, despite major differences in ancestry and upbringing, not only a personal friend of, but also had direct access to Sidney Plumstone. He was therefore in a position to check whether Sarah had fulfilled his expectations of her.
On 24th January 2009 the remit and scale of the inquiry was extended. In addition to the National Audit Office and Scotland Yard's Fraud Squad, officials were seconded from HM Customs and Excise, Inland Revenue, and the three armed services' Special Investigation Branches: the latter two operated under the command of Brigadier (Provost Marshal) Rupert Saxonby, RMP.
Each member of the investigating team was personally interviewed and thoroughly vetted by the Prime Minister's Secretariat - an onerous yet essential task - and upon successful establishment of background and credentials, every operative was required to sign a written undertaking of unprecedented stringency.
In summary the document stated that, irrespective of their obligations under the new Official Secrets Act 2008 (should any conflict of interests arise), all information emerging from their enquiries must only be passed to Sidney Plumstone's Personal Secretary, Miles Morgan.
Morgan possessed the following qualities: firstly his loyalty to the Prime minister was absolute; secondly, his intolerance of incompetence was legion and thirdly, his barely-concealed contempt for the ten civil servants implicated by Sarah Arbuthnot - including herself - was the motivating force which would ultimately destroy The Inner Cadre.
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