TWO

November 1969

At the Chronicle it was back to normal service for me. After a particularly dull assignment reporting on the first woman to be allowed to underwrite at Lloyds (but only through an agent), I decided it was time for a change. Handing in my piece to mark the sixth anniversary of JFK's death (the ghost of jfk - how his death still haunts us), I proposed an idea for an exciting new series of articles to the features editor. I was desperate to get away from the chief reporter, and a shift upstairs to Features seemed like the perfect solution. Plus it would pave my way from the daily grind of newspapers to the more sedate and better-paid world of magazine journalism.

Britain had been at the forefront in many areas of scientific research for decades, particularly medicine and aeronautics. But in the last five years the nation seemed to have achieved a massive leap forward in the field of microchip technology, which was having a positive overlap into other areas like space exploration.

The British Space Centre had suddenly leapt ahead of the Soviet Union and America in the space race, thanks to the rapid advances in computer technology brought by the microchip. A new launching in the Mars Probe series of flights was due in the next few months and I was determined to get the scoop on what it could mean for Britain. It seemed perverse that such a small and increasingly irrelevant nation on the world stage should be sending men to Mars when most homes only had a black-and-white television set and some still had an outhouse.

I proposed calling the series of features ‘Frontier Science’, to make the link between glamorous scientific pursuits like the Mars Probe and other, more conventional fields like the search for renewable energy resources and the rapid expansion of research into genetic and psychological engineering programmes. The series got a typically enthusiastic go-ahead from the features editor, Michael Dobbyn.

My first call was at the newly established Ministry of Science, to get the official Government line on this research explosion. There had been much talk from politicians about the white heat of technology, so what would they call this new interest in the sciences? As with all Government departments, getting an interview with anyone significant proved difficult. I built up a lot of good contacts that would prove useful later, but getting anyone to say anything for the record was another matter. Finally some severe string-pulling get me an appointment with the Right Honourable Frederick Masters, Permanent Under-Secretary for the Minister of Science - in two weeks time. I decided to use the delay fruitfully, getting on with my other interviews for the series.

I began with a trip to the British Space Centre in Hertfordshire. According to the Chronicle's archives, the centre had grown out of the old British Rocket Group. After a series of controversial orbital flights in the 1950s, many of its staff had moved on to other projects while others had taken early retirement. A skeleton staff remained until the recent arrival of Professor Ralph Cornish.

By all reports he brought a new enthusiasm to the BRG. He had it renamed the British Space Centre to bring its moniker in line with its new function, making Britain a force in the space race. Few believed it was possible with the limited resources and budget available but Cornish refused to accept defeat. He badgered politicians, put up a bravura performance before a fundings select committee in Parliament and begged or borrowed the equipment he needed.

The breakthrough for turning Cornish's vision into a reality came with the collapse of International Electromatics. IE and its charismatic founder Tobias Vaughn appeared from nowhere in the mid-1960s to claim eighty per cent of the global electronics market in just three years with its revolutionary new microchip technology.

But tragedy struck when Vaughn died in an explosion at his IE factory just outside London. Without his guidance IE collapsed and it was Ralph Cornish who stepped in to help Vaughn's associate Ashley Chapel sort out the mess. In return he got access to much of the cutting-edge technology Vaughn was still developing at the time of his death. With this new edge, the British Space Centre was truly revitalized.

Now the BSC was on countdown to another launch. It had just signed a precedent-setting contract with the BBC, granting the corporation exclusive broadcast rights to all future space flights. It was believed that the BBC hoped to launch its third television channel with full colour coverage of the next Mars flight.

Thanks to a drive for new funding to set up a space recovery programme, Cornish was willing to grant a few, selected interviews. I made sure I was among those invited. So I came to be driven through the security gates at the centre on a chilly November morning. After a series of elaborate security checks I was finally ushered into an office empty of everything, bar one desk, two chairs and a filing cabinet. The desk drawers were empty and the filing cabinet was locked - I know, I tried them all.

‘Welcome to the British Space Centre. How can I help you, Mr...?’

PHOTO FILES

[View Photo]

I swivelled to look at the person addressing me. I recognized the tall, rangy man standing in the doorway as Cornish from the photos we held on file at the Chronicle. He was dressed in a smart, single-breasted grey suit with highly polished black leather shoes and a crisply knotted tie over his white shirt. His hair was immaculately groomed and his eyes were slate grey, but not too cold. His appearance was clean, upright and direct. Only a slight weariness about the eyes hinted at the almost legendary long hours he worked here. I stood up to shake his hand.

‘Stevens, James Stevens. I'm from the Daily Chronicle. Perhaps you can start by telling me about the problems with Mars Probe 7.’

Cornish moved around the desk and sat opposite me. He explained for what must have been the thousandth time how Mars Probe 7 had landed safely on Mars but then communications links were lost. Shortly afterwards, the craft had lifted off from the surface of Mars manually and was now on its slow return journey to Earth.

‘We need to set up this recovery programme in case the astronauts need help getting back home. We can't simply abandon them!’ His voice grew louder as the passion in his words increased. This was a man devoted to his work to the exclusion of all else, a quality with which I could well identify.

‘What about your links with the late Tobias Vaughn and International Electromatics? How much have they helped you in getting the Mars Probe series back on track?’ I asked innocently.

Cornish's eyes flashed angrily. ‘I'm sorry, under the terms of the Official Secrets Act I am not permitted to discuss what happened to Tobias Vaughn, IE or Ashley Chapel. This interview is terminated.’ He got up and was already walking out of the room by the time I could raise a word of protest. He paused at the door to look back at me. ‘I'm sorry, but in this matter I am powerless. You'll have to take it up with UNIT.’

Then he was gone, leaving me gasping for breath. What the hell did UNIT have to do with IE or the British Space Centre for that matter? What was the significance of Ashley Chapel? Several times I had approached the elusive Mr Chapel for an interview and been firmly rebuffed. I almost thought I saw a look of fear in Cornish's eyes before he left the room. What could a prominent professor have to fear from the likes of Chapel or UNIT? Why had Cornish even mentioned UNIT to me - was he deliberately trying to make some connection for me? Or was this an elaborate trap?

One thing was obvious: the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce and its links to scientific research in Britain had just become part of my series of features.

Next on my list to interview was Professor Jeremiah P. Kettlewell, of the radical science research forum, Think Tank. Partially funded by the Government, Think Tank was established by the new Ministry of Science to encourage and develop new ideas. By keeping it within the Government's ambit, it was hoped this would prevent the ‘brain drain’ of major scientists to research centres in America.

Kettlewell was an expert in robotics, but was best known outside science circles for his visionary - or ‘crackpot’, as the tabloids liked to describe them - opinions about the future of energy resources. Twice he had made the headlines after presenting radical papers at international conferences calling for the banning of fossil fuel consumption, with all cars to be powered by electricity generated from natural, renewable resources like wind power.

Kettlewell had been dismissed as an utter nutter both times but was slowly being recognized as a forward thinker on pressing environmental issues. After my limited success with Professor Cornish, I was hopeful Kettlewell would be more helpful. I had my doubts as soon as we met.

No wonder people think he's a mad scientist, he looks just like one, I thought to myself as I shook the professor's hand. He was short and rotund, with wild, uncontrolled hair that seemed to explode from his head like bolts of lightning. Clad in a white laboratory coat, he shuffled around in a permanent stoop, trying to focus on objects directly in front of him through the pebble-think circular glasses perched on his nose.

Rather than spending another week getting security clearance to enter Think Tank where the professor worked, I had arranged to meet him at home. A long drive into countryside finally brought me to his small cottage, which was dwarfed by the huge workshop building behind it. Kettlewell gave me a tour of his laboratory before settling down in a book-lined study for the interview proper.

Kettlewell was a fascinating speaker, once he got over his own nervousness and began to relax a bit more. He warmed to his topic about the need to pioneer new energy resources and also warned against building up a reliance on too much technology.

‘But, Professor, your own field of expertise is robotics. Surely what you're saying is in contradiction to your life's work?’ I challenged him.

‘Perhaps, but I can't help feel that no good can come out of robotics. Already we are seeing massive rises in the levels of unemployment due to increased automation, which in turn is leading to increases in violence and crime. There is no such thing as a utopian society based around robots doing all the work, only a dystopian society!’

The day finally arrived for my interview with Frederick Masters at the Ministry of Science. I took a taxi to Whitehall to avoid the notorious lack of parking in the area and finished my journey on foot. To my immense irritation I arrived to discover that Masters had been urgently called away, for reasons that became clear less than 24 hours later.

The next day I was already at my desk in the Features Department when one of the police reporters ran past on his way to the Editor's office. ‘What's happening?’ I shouted after him.

‘It's just come over the radio scanner. The police have sealed off Waterloo Station and have called in the army and a fleet of ambulances. People are dropping like flies - could be another nerve gas attack!’ he shouted back over his shoulder. One of the duties of the police reporters was to monitor all radio traffic over the police frequencies. This was just about legal, as long as we did not run a story lifted directly from police transmissions. Plus it kept us right up to date with any good emergencies.

Anticipating the need for background information, I pulled the reference library's files on previous nerve gas attacks in London. The first came nearly three years before when the entire London Underground network had to be sealed off after a hallucinogenic gas was accidentally released into the air vents. Dozens of people died and hundreds reported seeing strange creatures in the tunnels.

The crisis spread above ground with Central London being evacuated after the nerve gas clotted into a heavy fog that hung close to the ground like some massive spider's web. Eventually the fog dissipated of its own accord, with no one able to give a conclusive explanation.

The second incident came more recently but was equally inconclusive. Thousands of people in major cities around the world reported fainting spells, dizziness, and loss of memory. The scientific theory put forward at the time was that the Earth had passed through a comet's tail, showering the world with an unidentified form of radiation causing this global illness. This was roundly dismissed but never bettered.

The new attack seemed much more localized, centred around Waterloo railway station. Already the closure and quarantining of the area was bringing chaos to London's transport system. London Underground was at a virtual standstill, the railways were debilitated and the quarantine seemed to be spreading.

Fresh reports flooded in of more people collapsing at office blocks and on street corners, and at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. Chaos was engulfing London and it was spreading across the capital fast. Suddenly, I realized what was really going on.

‘This isn't some nerve gas attack - it's a killer virus, some sort of plague, and it's spreading like wildfire,’ I told the chief reporter. He nodded his agreement and began deploying his ‘troops’, as he liked to call the hacks in times of crisis. The Daily Chronicle might have been a staid, conservative paper but it covered disasters and tragedies better than any other daily on Fleet Street. The secret was a machine gun technique, throwing so many reporters and photographers at a story that the resulting coverage was easily the most comprehensive available.

Thanks to my timely intervention, the drive for news had a new focus, one which quickly proved accurate. I was seconded back from Features for the day to work the phones and drum up some official reaction to the crisis. I was seated at my old desk in the newsroom when a call came through to my phone.

‘Mr Stevens, I hope you're keeping well in the midst of all this unpleasantness,’ purred a deep, rich male voice. I recognized it instantly as the mystery caller from the previous month.

‘Very well thanks, which is better than can be said for the poor sods who were at Waterloo Station this morning. Who is this?’

‘A friend. I've phoned to help you with a little information that might be useful. Are you interested?’

‘I didn't get much change out of your last tip-off,’ I noted curtly.

‘That's because you just didn't dig hard enough. I understand you were due to meet with the Right Honourable Frederick Masters yesterday,’ ventured my mystery caller.

‘How the hell did you know that? Have you been following me?’ This guy was making me deeply paranoid. I even looked around the office to see if this was a crank call from someone internal. Nothing.

‘I hardly have time for that. No, I think it would interest you to know that Mr Masters is now the late Mr Masters. He was one of the first to die from this plague. Indeed, it was he who brought it into Waterloo. Are you familiar with the name Wenley Moor?’ asked the voice, a note of mockery in its velvet tones.

‘Should I be?’

‘You will be. That's where the late Mr Masters had to rush off to yesterday, which is why he missed your appointment. Masters is the key - follow him and you'll find the source of this plague. Do you have a pen and paper?’

‘Yes,’ I replied, trying to keep the exasperation out of my voice.

‘No need to get tetchy, Mr Stevens. Write down this telephone number - it may help you in the quest for information. Good luck,’ added the mystery caller before hanging up.

I held the telephone number in my hand for a moment, contemplating my next course of action. The last time this extravagantly secret source had called, the tip-off failed to pan out. But perhaps he was right, perhaps I hadn't pushed hard enough? I dialled the phone number he had given me and waited while it rang: once, twice, three -

‘Lethbridge-Stewart here,’ snapped a voice.

‘Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart?’ I asked, hardly able to believe what I was hearing.

‘Yes, who's this speaking?’

‘This is James Stevens of the Daily Chronicle. I wanted to ask you a few questions about -’

‘The Daily what!’ Lethbridge-Stewart exploded. ‘How did you get this number?’ he demanded, then slammed the phone down before waiting for an answer. I swore under my breath and quickly re-dialled the number, only to find it permanently engaged for the next thirty minutes. The brigadier had obviously taken the phone off the hook. I had missed a golden opportunity. There was nothing for it - I would have to grind this story out the hard way.

Back to phone I went, making call after call to dozens of contacts in the Ministry of Science before I finally managed to make a breakthrough. One of my friends in the funding side was able to give me a lead on the name Wenley Moor.

‘That thing! God, it's been costing us a fortune. Wenley Moor's an underground nuclear research centre; they're doing some very hush-hush involving a cyclotron. New work into finding cheap and easy ways of generating electricity. But it's all been going horribly wrong, dear.’

‘How so?’ I said, trying to suppress my habit of involuntarily imitating the vocal mannerisms of others. It was a useful talent as a journalist, and had gained me access to information that a reporter's usual bullying and blustering would have put off limits. But using it on reliable sources only put their backs up, so I tried to keep my accent and speech patterns as normal as possible.

‘Well, they had all sorts of problems just tunnelling the place out - too close to some old caves or something. Then they've had problems with power losses and the staff aren't very happy either. Can't say I blame them - you wouldn't catch me going down some dark dirty hole in the ground, if you know what I mean. Not on my own, anyway...’

Another source confirmed Masters had been rushed off to Wenley Moor by the Minister, charged with the task of finding whether the whole project should be scrapped and how it could best be hushed up. Apparently Masters and the research centre's director, Doctor Lawrence, were old friends from school.

It was time to brief the chief reporter on what I had found out. He quickly absorbed the details and immediately ordered three cadets to start ringing around the Wenley Moor area: the first to keep trying the centre itself on the number I had been given by my anonymous caller; the second to call round the local hospitals to see if there had been any plague outbreaks in the district; and the third to call the residents for their reaction to having ‘an atomic bomb under their bloody gardens', as the chief reporter put it.

While he was giving orders, further updates were brought over from the radio scanner. The police had just confirmed that the Right Honourable Frederick Masters was now counted among the victims of the plague. His body had just been identified by his secretary. ‘And she should know his body,’ winked the chief reporter maliciously.

By this time it was nearly 7 p.m. - time to start sending some copy down to the compositors for setting. I was assigned to write the story, pulling together all the threads into one easily read article. It was a mammoth task, but, as always, the hardest task was finding the right opening sentence, or ‘intro’, to start the story. This was a guarantied front-page lead and I wanted to make it a stunner.

In the days before new technology, we typed our copy onto three blank sheets of rectangular newsprint paper, each separated by a sheet of black carbon paper. Top left was reserved for the names of the reporters working on the story. Top centre was the date of writing, and top right was a single, unique word to identify the story from all others in the paper that day, along with a page number. I threaded my carbons between the three sheets of paper and typed in:

STEVENS ET AL 22/11/69 plague 1

After a full five minutes staring at the blank remainder of the page, I did what I always did when I could not think of an intro. I went to the toilet. It was a source of much ribbing in the newsroom that my best stories had their foundations in the toilets, but it never failed. One minute spent in quiet contemplation with my trousers around my ankles always brought forth the required result, and so it was that day. When I returned to my desk, the intro was easy:

More than xxx people yesterday died of a mystery plague sweeping London which is believed to have come from a secret Government-funded nuclear research centre - and a junior minister may have been the plague carrier.

From here the story flowed out of my typewriter, with certain key facts left as xxx to allow the latest data to be inserted as close to press-time as possible. As I was writing, cadets came over to hand me insert-copy to be dropped into my main piece where appropriate. The inserts included news that the first international plague victim had just died at Paris Airport, that nearly sixty people had died on one platform at Waterloo Station, that the Government was appealing for calm in the face of this crisis, that a vaccine to this mystery plague was even now being prepared and chemists were standing by to produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of the vaccine for mass inoculations once it was ready.

The fourth paragraph was left open for a statement from the Government on the claims made in my article. I delayed making the phone call as long as possible so that our revelations could not be leaked to other newspapers once they had been safely dealt with. The Editor even made a rare appearance on the newsroom floor to consult with the chief reporter and the news editor about which edition the story should appear in first.

A morning daily can run as many as four or more different editions of each day's paper as new stories come in and spoilers are written to cancel out exclusives in first editions of opposition papers. The first two or three editions are generally for outlying provincial areas, while metropolitan areas get the final edition of the night.

The chief reporter wanted our plague scoop in as soon as possible, so we could get the maximum impact, while the news editor preferred to go with the final edition of the night. It would still get maximum impact in areas where it mattered most and it would not tip our hand to the rest of the Street, he pointed out. The news editor was a wily old soak who was as well loved as the chief reporter was much hated. Every summer the news editor was sent away to dry out, and every winter he reverted to pickling himself in single malt from the insides out.

The Editor even deigned to ask my opinion, which left me nearly speechless. I mumbled something about keeping our powder dry for as long as possible and the Editor nodded sagely.

‘Final edition it is then,’ he announced, before turning back to me a final time. ‘You'd better get busy then - you'll have to rewrite the top of that piece to hide our scoop, and do it fast. We've only got seven minutes till press-time.’

I was still tweaking my copy for the full version of our plague story when the Chronicle building began its distinctive 10 p.m. vibrations. The printing presses in the basement were running up to speed for the first edition. Soon a cadet was wandering around the newsroom, distributing copies of the paper on desks, his hands grubby with ink. Wearily I cast an eye across my copy and noticed a few minor alterations that needed making - the death toll had risen by another thirteen in the past hour.

Finally, just before midnight, it was over. I separated all my pieces of newsprint into three neat, sequential piles and pushed a pin through each on them. The top copy went into the news editor's basket - ‘Christ, Stevens, what do you think you're writing, a bloody novel?’ he taunted me with a sly wink. Second copy went to the chief reporter, who just grunted, while I retained the bottom copy for future reference, ramming it down on a big paper-spike atop my desk. I definitely needed a drink.

Two hours later the news editor appeared clutching copies of the final edition in the pub around the corner, sliding past the landlord's malevolent gaze with practised ease. ‘Bloody good story, m'boy, bloody good story,’ he said before collapsing into a triple measure of single malt.

I finally stumbled into the flat about dawn to find Natasha tear-stained and stricken with grief, convinced I must have been one of the plague victims. When she discovered I had been out drinking all night and not even bothered to call her to say I was all right, she went ballistic.

‘You care more about that bloody paper that you do about me, James! You treat me like I'm just another possession, something you've collected to get a set. Now you've got me, you can just forget I even exist!’ she screamed.

‘I've just written the biggest scoop of the year! I don't hear you complaining about all the money I bring in; you're bloody happy to spend it shopping for yourself and your friends,’ I shouted back.

‘You leave my friends out of this - at least I've got some friends!’ she replied, storming into the bedroom and slamming the door shut after herself. I spent two hours fuming on the couch and made sure I left early for work in the morning. At least I would be appreciated there, I thought.

I arrived at the Chronicle to find the office besieged with camera crews and photographers from other media. Our scoop about Wenley Moor and its links to the plague had embroiled the Government in a massive controversy and one minister had already resigned ‘to spend more time with his family’, with another expected to go later in the day.

I got out of my car, to be surrounded by cameras and other journalists shouting questions at me. It was a strange sensation being the centre of the news instead of being the person asking the questions. I just smiled, said they could read the next chapter of this saga in tomorrow's Daily Chronicle, and slipped into the office.

By midday the plague crisis was over, with hospitals overrun by people desperate to get inoculated against the plague now that an antidote was available. The Government announced that Wenley Moor was to be shut down and sealed off immediately. An official investigation was expected to begin any day. Later in the afternoon we had reports from one of our stringers on the moors about a series of explosions in the caves around the research centre. There were also reports that army vehicles marked UNIT had been seen in the area but, as usual, we could get no official confirmation.

I spent the afternoon writing the wrap-up story about the plague crisis and the debilitating effect it would have on the Government in forthcoming elections. The final death toll approached four hundred - nearly twenty of those overseas - and there was a lot of anger over how such a human disaster could have happened here in Britain. In the end three ministers resigned and the Government itself was mortally wounded by the controversy.

In the Chronicle office, senior editorial staff were making murmurings about the investigation being award-winning stuff but I did my best to ignore the speculation. The news editor warned me that I had made a lot of people in high places very angry by pointing out their negligence. ‘You be careful, m'boy. They'd love for you to fall flat on your face - so keep your nose clean, know what I mean?’

I was very aware of a lot of resentment towards me from the regular news reporters who had considered my defection to the Features Department a betrayal. Returning to the newsroom for the day to snatch such a juicy scoop from under their noses just added insult to injury. Despite this, several of the cadets who had worked with me on the story were happy to escape Fleet Street for the night and go out for a celebratory drink afterwards round the corner at the Savoy.

We propped up the bar for several hours as I held forth with tales of journalistic derring-do, the liquor turning each succeeding story into a greater exaggeration than the last. At the end of the bar I noticed a stunning redhead listening in to the conversation. She was tall with a figure only held in check by her daringly short black dress.

Eventually I could ignore her no longer and sent the barman off to fetch her a champagne cocktail. She joined our merry group, introducing herself as Natasha. ‘That's funny, my - err - my sister's name is Natasha,’ I slurred, carefully slipping my wedding ring into my pocket.

‘Really,’ she replied, arching an eyebrow slyly. She had noticed my action but did not seem to mind the deception. Her eyes sparkled mischievously as she suggested we go up to her room for another drink as the bar was finally closing. It was nearly 2 a.m. and the cadets seemed to melt away as Natasha and I stumbled across reception towards the lifts.

‘You know, Noël Coward lives right here at the Savoy - Suite 411. We could go and visit him,’ I suggested in a slurred voice. ‘I reported on his 70th birthday last week, you know.’

‘Let's not,’ replied my new friend, grinding the palm of her hand across my crotch. A minute later we were inside her suite. I reached for the telephone to call for room service but she placed her hand on mine, keeping the receiver on its cradle. ‘Plenty to drink right here,’ she purred, pointing to a drinks cabinet in the corner of the room. ‘Why don't you pour me a drink while I freshen up?’

I was still wrestling with the bottle opener when she reappeared from the bathroom, clad in a champagne-coloured robe. The loose ties around her waist seemed to unravel and slide apart with the ease of a rattlesnake uncoiling before it strikes. The silk robe wafted open to reveal her body within, naked and lightly tanned.

Alcohol, lust and flattery are a lethal combination.

Next morning I awoke strewn across a king-size bed with a hangover that could kill a rhino and a queasy feeling in my stomach. I looked around but the rest of the bed was empty and so was the suite. Mid-morning sunshine dazzled my eyes from between the ornate drapes that had hung open all night. I was in no shape for work so I phoned in sick before getting a cab home. Just before I stepped into the flat I guiltily remembered to slide my wedding ring back on.

Natasha was distraught at my all-night absence. Sure, I had gone out drinking before but I had always managed to get home before dawn. There were tears and accusations and angry words, most of the anger coming from me as I lashed out to conceal the sickening guilt I felt. Natasha flung a plateful of food at me. She had cooked a special meal, as an apology for the previous night and as a celebration.

‘What, of my article?’ I asked selfishly.

‘No, because I thought I might pregnant,’ she sobbed, ‘but it was a false alarm.’ I was furious, telling her we had agreed to wait before starting a family. ‘We agreed! You just decided! I never had any say in the matter!’ she screamed. ‘I thought having a baby might bring us closer together.’

‘Don't count on it,’ I fumed and stormed out of the flat. A cold week of silences and vicious looks followed before we finally made it up, but all the while the guilt about what I had done at the Savoy lay hunched in my stomach, queasy and depressing.

At work the excitement of the big scoop slowly died away. I worked hard on a series of follow-up stories but nothing much came of them. A farmer's wife who lived on Wenley Moor was still being treated for shock after claiming to see some sort of lizard walking upright like a man - that did not even make it into the real gutter press.

Finding the source of the plague was another blind alley. The director of the research centre, Doctor Lawrence, was among the victims of the virus and could not be called to account. I managed to get some scientists to speculate that the plague could have been a more common flu virus that was inadvertently mutated at an accelerated rate by radiation emissions from the cyclotron, but it could not be proved. There were also vague similarities found between the killer plague and a mild viral antibody still found in certain African primates, but again nothing could be proved, making another non-story.

The only thing I did manage to get conclusive evidence on was that no experiments into chemical, genetic or other biological weapons had been going on at the research centre. The work at Wenley Moor had been purely about finding new methods of generating cheap electricity. So where had the plague come from? Nobody had any answers.

Something else which fascinated me was what link did UNIT have with Wenley Moor? I firmly believed that UNIT was called in to deal with the crisis there, or may even have precipitated it. But without proof or anyone willing to talk about UNIT for publication, I had no story. It was definitely time for me to start digging deeper about this so-called ‘intelligence taskforce’.

[ Intro Preface | 1 2 3 4 5 | 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 | 22 23 24 | Epilogue April 1996 Postscript 25 August 1971 Afterword ]

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