Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson shifted uneasily in their seats. Hunt had tweeted the day before that his chum Andrew may have been stitched up. And Johnson had stormed into somewhere or other to demand more knowledge about what was clearly a conspiracy by the US Federal Authorities, UK Uncut, and rogue police elements loyal to those abused in Welsh care homes to sully the name of Mitchell.
Behind the Inspector and to one side of the large interview room sat Metropolitan Police commissioner and former Australian crocodile wrestler Bernard Hogan-Howe. He had vowed to get to the bottom of why a Diplomatic protection cop had been arrested last weekend, why he or other cops had said they were at the scene of Plebgate but weren’t, and why one or more of them had rung first an MP, and then the Sun newspaper, to give them about a front-page splash which was, it now appeared, not what it had appeared to be at first. He was regretting the vow already.
To his left by the door – half observer and half armed guard – stood John Tully, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, who had the previous day told the BBC that he refuted any and all allegations about conspiracies to unseat cabinet ministers from their bikes or their posts. But since he’d given that assurance, four more potential plots had been suggested, and so he too was regretting the refuting. He chewed his lip nervously, an anti-terrorist machine gun resting snugly against his pelvis. Just one small slip of the trigger, he thought wistfully, and I could take them all out.
At the back in a shadowy corner, identical twins Ronnie and Reggie Barclay sat unmoved. Neither face had moved for years. Only their eyes betrayed signs of life. Using ESP, they were silently planning the execution of everyone at the BBC, the demolition of all the buildings they occupied, and the use of the levelled site for a new Daily Telegraph building.
In the second row, nodding off between asking everyone who he was, Rupert Murdoch was thinking at a thousand miles an hour behind his sleep-feigning eyes. He was pretty sure his lot had nothing to do with it – beyond bribing the cop to give them the exclusive – which was standard practice anyway. He didn’t know who the hell this dingo Mitchell was anyway apart from being just another Tory toff who deserved everything he got. It couldn’t be anything to do with Rebekah, because she didn’t work for him any more, and he’d given her eleven million smackers to shut up anyway. But nevertheless, he was worried: this case was covered in bribery, corruption, falsehood and conspiracy to pervert stuff, yet he wasn’t involved. Was he losing his touch?
Three rows back and these days estranged from the Australo-Yank magnate, David Cameron’s forehead was wrinkled in concentration. He’d had to fire Mitchell and promote Hunt, but he didn’t really know why. Boris was milking this for all it was worth, but he didn’t know why. The Sun was in there somewhere, but he didn’t know why. Sam was sulking this morning, but he didn’t know why. He was on Twitter, but he didn’t know why. They’d brought in a Canuck to run the Bank, but he didn’t know why. Ours not to reason why, he thought, but definitely not ours to either do or die. That way lay danger. Much better to move in all directions at once, keep the media on their toes, that sort of thing. Except he didn’t know why.
“I will offer you this scenario,” Plodeau continued, and we shall see what comes out in the wash. “Under pressure from those who had pictures of him enjoying some recreational ingestion, the Prime Minister set Andrew Mitchell the task of flushing out the blackmailers by upsetting the apple cart along the ethical cliff-face that was nothing more than a rotten barrel of evil involving Jeremy Hunt, Newscorp, the Police, the Groucho Club, the Carlton Club, the Bunny Club, and Boris Johnson”.
Hogan-Howe winced at the blended metaphors. David Cameron’s forehead grew ever more wrinkled. But Plodeau ploughed on.
“He thus sent Mitchell out on his 1957 Sturmey-Archer geared Raleigh bicycle to cause a scene by ramming his bike into the Downing Street gates. But a spook under diplomatic cop cover followed him, spiked his little game – and then tipped off the papers. When the Barclays discovered they’d been left out of the loop and the BBC was on their tax case, they intervened to persuade the spook, who was secretly working with them on an invasion plan, to tell Newscorp that the minister had called the police “f**king plebs”.
Cameron was now completely lost. What had Jeffrey Archer got to do with it? How did spooks spike a bike? Surely the Barclays Bank scandal had died down by now?
“How do you all plead?” the Inspector asked the assembled group.
“Not Guilty,” they all muttered in unison. Cameron thought he just might have had something to do with it, but decided to play safe.
“Bugger” said Inspector Plodeau. Hogan-Howe leaned forward onto his knees, head in hands.
Tully stood and looked on. ‘I could say it was an accident’ he mused ‘a slip of the trigger finger. Could happen to anyone’.