The Inner Cadre - Chapter 3

By the end of April 2009, sufficient evidence had been unearthed concerning Sander's International Investigations Ltd. and Life-Line Security Corporation which enabled the Fraud Squad to arrest the managing directors of both companies along with a significant number of senior employees. Sander's and Life-Line ceased operations, their assets were seized, and most of the remainder of their suddenly-redundant workforce found themselves 'helping the police with their inquiries', except for the lucky few on overseas assignments. As soon as they were notified of their redundancy, they disappeared using established clandestine networks specially created for such a contingency.

Interpol spent many frustrating months tracing these people, but by the end of 2009 after apprehending only three employees of Sander's International Investigations Ltd. (they were subsequently released without charge), they scaled down their efforts.

During her disclosures to the Prime Minister the previous January, Sarah Arbuthnot made detailed reference to circumstances prior to and shortly after, the deaths of Prince Adrian, Duke of Mercia, and his fiancée, Natalie Benson. If her allegations were correct and could be proven, the consequences for the entire British Commonwealth would be catastrophic. As far as Miss Arbuthnot knew, the conspiracy was confined to only three members of The Inner Cadre, namely Sir Jonothan Doggett, Sir Donald Vale and Dr. Graham Allinson. She had become aware of the plot due to an indiscretion on the part of Dr. Allinson: during a soirée held at his country residence, the Doctor, almost stuporose from over-indulgence in whisky, hinted that the tragic events of 31st March 2006 were anything but a mere road traffic accident. Miss Arbuthnot, being an acknowledged expert in interviewing techniques, persuaded Dr. Allinson to elaborate. Later that night upon arriving home she was violently sick and contacted her GP. Upon examination, no symptoms of fever were present, but it was evident to her physician that Miss Arbuthnot was in a state of emotional turmoil. As an interim measure, a sedative was administered, and two days later she informed her father ...

Sidney Plumstone took no action over Sarah Arbuthnot's revelations until the demise of Life-Line Security Corporation in 2009. This was the firm which had won the contract to provide twenty-four hour protection for the Royal Family following privatisation of The Royal Household and Public Servants' Protection Agency in November 2002. Life-Line had been responsible for the Duke of Mercia's safety whilst visiting Australia during March 2006 and, after considering this fact alongside Miss Arbuthnot's disclosures, the Prime Minister was left with no alternative. No records of the Tuesday meeting between The Queen and Sidney Plumstone on 5th May 2009 exist, but a week later he announced the following to a silent and sombre House of Commons:

"It is with deep regret, Madam Speaker, but I must now inform the House that on-going investigations into the affairs of Life-Line Security Corporation will now be examining events surrounding the deaths of the Duke of Mercia and his fiancée Miss Natalie Benson. Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies go out to the Royal Family and to the relatives of Miss Benson.

"Whilst it would be improper of me to comment on the conduct of this firm at present, I can promise the house, Madam Speaker, that if negligence, criminality, or a combination of the two becomes apparent, then the perpetrators will face the full might of the law. The Australian authorities have pledged their full support and I am confident that a satisfactory outcome will be achieved."

Five months later, the Managing Director of Life-Line Security Corporation's Australian Division together with two of his subordinates, were found guilty of criminal incompetence and negligence resulting in loss of life. During the trial held in Sydney it emerged that the vehicle which at the time of the 'accident' was being driven by Natalie Benson, had not been serviced since the previous November apart from the fitting of an improved engine management computer in early March 2006, shortly before the Duke's arrival. That device had been duly tested after the crash and had reported itself to be genuine in all respects.

Under the terms of their contract, Life-Line were required to regularly inspect and service all vehicles used by or for the Royal Household according to laid-down weekly and monthly maintenance schedules. Expert examination of the vehicle after the 'accident' revealed that these routines had not been properly carried out. Each defendant received a lengthy jail sentence.

It was in January 2010 when Maurice Hopper, the disgraced and incarcerated Managing Director of Life-Line Security Corporation's Australian Division requested and was granted a private interview with the British Special Emissary, Sir Peter Osmond. The latter listened with stunned disbelief and horror as Mr. Hopper recounted details of how the vehicle had been ingeniously tampered with in order to make the crash appear accidental. Reference was made to one Dr. Graham Allinson, Chief Medical Consultant to the Ministry of Defence in London. It was the doctor who had planned and supervised the installation and concealment of a device in the Duke of Mercia's car. As the interview progressed Sir Peter learned that Graham Allinson had relatives in Australia and spent three weeks with them every year. There was nothing particularly unusual about his regular visits to the country, and therefore nothing to connect him to the tragedy - unless Maurice Hopper was telling the truth.

The day following the interview, Sir Peter Osmond commenced his journey to London, and thirty-six hours later was granted an interview with the Prime Minister. Also present was the formidable Miles Morgan. At the end of three gruelling hours, the trio reached the conclusion that Maurice Hopper had been entirely honest, but, such being the ingenuity of the device used to cause the accident, conclusive proof would probably never emerge. However, as far as Sidney Plumstone was concerned, now was the time to remove the malignant carcinoma before it overwhelmed the entire Civil Service.

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