William Garrett, the man the media knew as Fox, was possibly the most dangerous prisoner in the UK out of a population of close to a hundred thousand. Although it was another three months before his trial was due to start, and the reporting of his alleged crimes had been kept to a minimum so as not to prejudice any future proceedings, the prosecution case against him was as close to watertight as you were ever going to get. Positively identified by witnesses, and caught at the scene of the crime with traces of blood and gunshot residue on his person, as well as a phone which he’d just used to send a message to a fellow conspirator, it was well known that he’d been one of the lead terrorists involved in the Stanhope siege. There were numerous reports of him killing hostages without compunction or conscience, and he’d been fully prepared to blow up the building along with hundreds of people inside it.
And yet the man sitting on the other side of the desk holding a mug of lukewarm tea between cuffed hands didn’t look much like a ruthless terrorist to Tina. He looked more like a washed-out PE teacher who’d been in an accident. He was of medium height and medium build, with neatly cut, short sandy hair, and pale, almost translucent skin, which was probably the result of spending too many months behind bars. The signs of the attack on him were obvious. The top of his head was bandaged, and he had dressing running up his right forearm from wrist to elbow. There were also several minor defensive wounds on both hands, one containing a few stitches. His face was on the thin, almost gaunt, side, as if he exercised too much or had stopped enjoying his food, but the wide, clearly genuine smile he gave Tina as she entered the room suggested he remained in good spirits. Only the calculating expression in his narrow grey eyes suggested something darker.
‘Thanks for coming,’ he said in a confident voice that carried the faintest of West Country burrs. ‘I’d shake your hand but it’s not very easy with these on.’
‘I’m sure I’ll get over it,’ replied Tina, taking a seat opposite him and making a point of not looking at the red panic alarm button just beneath the lip of the desk. She didn’t want him thinking he intimidated her.
‘I heard you got reinstated in the Met. How did you manage that?’
Tina leaned forward in her seat, meeting his gaze. ‘We’re not here to discuss my career, Mr Garrett. You told the governor you had information regarding the people involved in the Stanhope siege.’
He looked down at the pockmarked table, then back at her. ‘Do you know why I asked to see you specifically?’
‘No. I’ve got to say I’m surprised. I’m not even working on the Stanhope case.’
‘The reason is I trust you. And I also think you can get things done. Most people do what they’re told, fill in the forms they’re meant to fill in, and let their bosses make the big decisions. That’s why this country’s in such a parlous state. Nobody likes taking responsibility any more. If it had been any other copper sitting where you are today, things would move slowly. With you, I think we might be able to get somewhere.’
Tina resisted telling him that as a DC in a mid-sized CID department, she really wasn’t in that powerful a position. ‘I’ll do what I can,’ she said.
He nodded slowly. ‘I know you will. I hear there’s a team still investigating the events at the Stanhope. I’m assuming they briefed you before you came here.’
‘I’ve had some background,’ said Tina noncommittally.
‘How are they getting on? I haven’t seen news of any arrests.’
‘I can’t discuss ongoing enquiries with you, Mr Garrett.’
‘And I bet the bombs this morning gave them something of a shock.’
‘Don’t tell me I’m better informed than you are.’ He smiled, showing teeth. ‘There were two more bombs about half an hour ago. I saw it on TV in my cell while I was waiting for you. The police were about to raid a flat of someone involved in the first bomb when there were two separate explosions. It looks like it was a trap.’
Tina resisted asking him for more details. She’d been blindsided by this information. She was annoyed that Mike Bolt hadn’t phoned her straight away, and surprised that the governor hadn’t known either. Or maybe he had, and the bastard had just chosen not to tell her. ‘The bomb, or bombs, this morning are a CTC matter,’ she told him.
‘It all looked very sophisticated. That’s what they kept saying on the news. And I’m willing to place a very big bet that the people behind it are the same ones who planned the Stanhope siege.’ He looked round the empty, windowless room. ‘Is this being recorded?’
‘Right now, anything you say is off the record. You have my word on it.’
He put his elbows on the table and rested his chin on the backs of his cuffed hands. He was watching her very carefully. ‘If, hypothetically speaking of course, I was to provide you with information that helped you, how would I benefit?’
‘It depends what the information is.’
‘The names of the people behind the Stanhope siege and today’s attack.’
Tina kept her expression neutral. She was surprised by his confidence that the people he was talking about were responsible for both attacks. He’d been behind bars for fifteen months, after all. ‘I’ll be straight with you,’ she said. ‘You’re never going to walk free. Not after what you’ve done. You know the evidence against you is massive, and that your chances of acquittal are almost nil, no matter what kind of representation you have. Which means you’re going to be convicted of premeditated mass murder with zero extenuating circumstances.’ She paused. ‘But there are different ways of doing the time.’
‘I need to know there’s a release date.’
Tina shook her head. ‘I can’t promise you that. There’d be a public outcry if you were let out after what you’ve done.’
Fox seemed to think about this before nodding slowly, as if accepting the inevitable. He dropped his hands and leaned across the desk again, his face coming too close to Tina’s for comfort. ‘I expect you’re wondering how I know that the people behind the Stanhope siege are responsible for today.’
‘It crossed my mind, yes.’
‘Check the bombmaker’s signature. It’ll be the same man who built the bombs used at the Stanhope. But the people involved will be covering their tracks. So whatever you or your bosses may think, I’m your best chance of finding them and building a case against them.’
‘And you do know who they are?’
‘Absolutely. These are the organizers, the ones providing the funds and the resources. But they stay a long way from the action. And they’re not finished yet.’
‘Are we talking about unfriendly Arab governments?’ asked Tina.
‘There was Arab involvement in the Stanhope operation,’ said Fox. ‘They wanted to pay the UK government back for interfering with Muslim affairs, and occupying Muslim lands. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. You name it, they were pissed off about it. But there was involvement within this country too. From people who, let’s say, were sympathetic with what the attacks on that day were trying to achieve. They’ve even got a name. They call themselves The Brotherhood.’
Tina wrote the name down. ‘And what are The Brotherhood trying to achieve?’
‘In their opinion, the UK’s lost its culture; it’s overcrowded; it’s being taken over by immigrants. A lot of citizens resent this, but the problem is they don’t resent it enough. They need something to push them over the edge. To get them so angry that they reach a point where they’ll vote for someone pushing a radical right-wing agenda. And the best way to achieve that is through terror attacks that can be blamed on immigrants and the children of immigrants. That’s what the Stanhope was about. I reckon that’s what the bombs today are about too. And there’ll be more to come because the more people die, the greater the effect.’
‘And were … are you a member of The Brotherhood?’
Fox smiled. ‘No comment.’
Tina eyed him closely, still surprised by how ordinary he looked, even though she knew that most killers look just like everyone else. ‘And do you have evidence against these people?’
‘More than you can imagine. And not just for Stanhope. For other crimes as well. And there’s one man at the top of the chain you’re going to be particularly interested in.’
‘How do you know about all this?’
Fox stared at her. ‘Because I used to work for him. If you can give me a guarantee that I’ll be sent to a secure, safe environment, and that I won’t serve more than ten years, then I’ll help you bring him and everyone involved to justice.’
‘You know as well as I do, Mr Garrett, that judges decide sentences in this country. Not politicians. And definitely not the police.’
‘But I also know there’s flexibility.’
‘There is. But it’s going to take time.’
‘We haven’t got time. That’s why I asked for you. There was an attempt on my life three days ago, just before the attacks today. That tells me, and it ought to tell you, that it wasn’t random. It was done for one reason and one reason only. To silence me. Like they silenced John Cheney. And they’re going to try again. Especially if they know I’ve been talking to you. You need to get me out of here, and fast.’
‘Give me a name. Something for me to go on.’
‘I need some guarantees.’
‘If your information’s good enough, I’ll get you out of here, I promise.’ Tina was lying, but she had to get something from this meeting in a claustrophobic little room with a brutal murderer. And she could tell from the renewed tension in his body language that he was thinking about it.
The room was silent.
Tina waited. Counting the seconds in her head.
‘He doesn’t sound much like a British neo-Nazi.’
‘He isn’t. But he’s involved.’
Tina wrote the name down. ‘In what way?’
But Fox was already getting up. She could tell that, as far as he was concerned, this meeting was over.
‘Look, a name’s no good to us on its own. I need something that shows you’re not bullshitting me.’
Fox ran his handcuffed hands through his hair, trying to avoid the bandage on his head, then winced and rubbed his injured arm. If the attempt on his life had been staged, it had been a damn authentic job. His eyes were cold as he looked at her, and for a moment Tina could imagine what it must have been like for the hostages on that frigid November night when they’d been staring down the barrel of his gun.
‘The weapons and explosives for the Stanhope siege came from Kosovo,’ he said at last. ‘The man who set up the deal from this end was Jetmir Brozi. He’s based in this country — a failed asylum seeker, if memory serves me correctly. He’s an Albanian with strong links to former members of the KLA — the Kosovo Liberation Army — who are still sitting on a lot of weaponry left over from the conflict. If the explosives used today are the same as at the Stanhope, Brozi will have been the broker.’
‘Where can we find him?’
‘He runs a brothel in an old warehouse near King’s Cross, or at least he did when I was dealing with him eighteen months ago. It’s on a place called Canal Street, about halfway down on the left if you’re heading north, and I think the name of the building is Mill House, although I couldn’t say for sure. I don’t know where he actually lives, but he’s known to the authorities under the name I’ve given you. He ran over a cyclist once, while driving without insurance or an MOT, and put the guy in hospital for six weeks with a fractured spine. It turned out that Brozi shouldn’t even have been in the country because he’d had his asylum application and two appeals turned down already. Even then they couldn’t get rid of him because, before the case got to court, he married a girl with a British passport and got her up the duff. Then he got his legal-aid-funded lawyers to say that separating him from his wife and child breached his right to a family life under the Human Rights Act. Hence, he’s still here.’ Fox couldn’t resist a cold smile. ‘It’s a great country we live in, isn’t it?’
Tina didn’t react as she wrote down the details, even though hearing stories about the weakness of the justice system and the vagaries of the Human Rights Act annoyed her as much as anyone.
‘I always made it my business to find out as much as I could about the people I did business with,’ continued Fox, ‘just in case it ever came in useful. Like now. Don’t waste what I know, Miss Boyd. Because if I die, my secrets go with me. And I have secrets that’ll make your hair stand on end.’
Tina replaced the notebook and got to her feet too. ‘I’ll be in touch,’ she told him, making no effort to shake hands.
‘You know, I admire you,’ said Fox, looking her up and down. ‘You might have caused us a lot of problems at the Stanhope, but I can’t help thinking that in other circumstances, we might have got on.’
‘Don’t flatter yourself,’ said Tina, turning away and signalling for the guard to let her out.