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him. The professor and his team were all unaware of this unwelcome attention, but some of
Britain’s commercial attachés overseas, and elements of the intelligence fraternity, had
already begun to pick up the unhealthy interest being shown in his work. Slowly, news of this
focus on Barclay filtered upwards through the diplomatic and intelligence networks until it
reached the higher echelons of the establishment in Whitehall.
It was at a meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that the issue was first
discussed, albeit briefly. Sir Robin Algar, the Cabinet Secretary and Chairman of JIC, told the
meeting that some leading questions we re being asked in some quarters which could indicate
more than a natural curiosity in the work of Barclay and his team
Sir Frederick Forsyth, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign O ffice, agreed that recent
telegrams had suggested that a couple of governments overseas, including Russia, were
taking rather more than a scientific interest in the work being pioneered in this country. The
Home O ffice man, James Burgess, agreed. That meant that both MI6 and MI5 were hearing
the same thing.
Algar told them all to check.
“I’d like to know at our next meeting if anything suggesting a threat is developing, so
that we can react accordingly. Get the usual checks done by the Security Services, and I’d
like your people, Len, to report anything they may have picked up.” This was not only to Sir
Len Watkins, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence but also to the Chief of
Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). “We will discuss it again when next we meet,” he said, and
adjourned the meeting.
The next meeting turned out to be quite interesting.
Forsyth, the Foreign O ffice man, summed up.
“There are two rival camps here, so I believe. My Intelligence people are indicating
that there are those who are desperately head- hunting Professor Barclay, to get him to work
for them rather than us, and there are others – or at least one other, I should say– who simply
want him removed from the scene. Perhaps permanently.”
“I agree,” said Algar. “I know for a fact that the Americans have offered Barclay very
attractive terms indeed to work for them at the National Ignition Facility based at the
Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California. Barclay seems interested, I’m told, but so far
has decided to stay put.”
“What about this apparent threat to remove him from the scene?” asked Watkins.
“According to our information,” said the Head of SIS, “the Russians at least want him
out of the way. There seem to be two reasons for this, but the main one is to slow down the
development of an alternative energy source until their own vast reserves of oil and gas are
nearing depletion, and then to capture the new market to themselves. In particular, they are
keen that he doesn’t work for the Americans.”
“So are we,” agreed Algar, “but for different reasons.”
“So how do we assess the threat?” asked Watkins.
“Ignoring the danger to our own national interests for the moment, Barclay himself
seems to face a real risk of either kidnap or assassination,” said Algar. “My view is that
Section 11 should be tasked to keep a close eye on the man.”
Which was why Section 11 had been charged with providing protection for Barclay.