The messenger tapped on the heavy oak door, and a voice said, "Come in." He opened the door and stood aside to allow Craig to enter. A young woman was seated at a desk on the far side of the room. She looked up and smiled. "Mr. Craig?"



"Yes," he replied.



"You're a little early, but I'll just check and see if the Lord Chancellor is free."



Craig was about to tell her that he was happy to wait, but she had already picked up the phone. "Mr. Craig is here, Lord Chancellor."



"Please send him in," came back a stentorian voice.



The secretary rose from behind her desk, crossed the room, opened another heavy oak door and ushered Mr. Craig into the Lord Chancellor's office.



Craig could feel the sweat on the palms of his hands as he walked into the magnificent oak-paneled room that overlooked the River Thames. Portraits of former Lord Chancellors were liberally displayed on every wall, and the ornate red and gold Pugin wallpaper left him in no doubt that he was in the presence of the most senior law officer in the land.



"Please have a seat, Mr. Craig," said the Lord Chancellor, opening a thick red folder that lay on the center of his desk. There was no suggestion of a glass of dry sherry as he browsed through some papers. Craig stared at the old man with his high forehead and bushy gray eyebrows, which had proved many a cartoonist's joy. The Lord Chancellor slowly raised his head and stared across the large, ornate desk at his visitor.



"I thought, given the circumstances, Mr. Craig, I should have a word in private rather than your becoming aware of the details in the press."



No mention of the state of English cricket.



"We have received an application," he continued in a dry, even tone, "for a royal pardon in the case of Daniel Arthur Cartwright." He paused to allow Craig to take in the full implication of what he was about to say. "Three Law Lords, led by Lord Beloff, have advised me that having reviewed all the evidence, it is their unanimous recommendation that I should advise Her Majesty to allow a full judicial review of the case." He paused again, clearly not wishing to hurry his words. "As you were a prosecution witness in the original trial, I felt I should warn you that their lordships are minded to call you to appear before them, along with"-he looked back down and checked his folder-"a Mr. Gerald Payne and Mr. Lawrence Davenport, in order to question the three of you concerning your evidence at the original hearing."



Before he could continue, Craig jumped in, "But I thought that before their lordships would even consider overturning an appeal, it was necessary for new evidence to be presented for their consideration?"



"New evidence has been forthcoming."



"The tape?"



"There is nothing in Lord Beloff's report that mentions a tape. There is, however, a claim from Cartwright's former cellmate"-once again the Lord Chancellor peered down at the folder-"a Mr. Albert Crann, who states that he was present when Mr. Toby Mortimer, whom I believe was known to you, stated that he had witnessed the murder of Mr. Bernard Wilson."



"But this is nothing more than hearsay, coming from the lips of a convicted criminal. It wouldn't stand up in any court in the land."



"In normal circumstances I would have to agree with that judgment, Mr. Craig, and would have dismissed the application had not another fresh piece of evidence been presented to their lordships."



"Another fresh piece of evidence?" repeated Craig, suddenly feeling a knot in the pit of his stomach.



"Yes," said the Lord Chancellor. "It appears that Cartwright shared a cell not only with Albert Crann, but also with another prisoner who kept a daily diary in which he meticulously recorded everything that he witnessed in prison, including verbatim accounts of conversations in which he took part."



"So the sole source of these accusations is a diary, which a convicted criminal claims he wrote while he was in prison."



"No one is accusing you of anything, Mr. Craig," said the Lord Chancellor quietly. "However, it is my intention to invite the witness to appear before their lordships. Of course, you will be given every opportunity to present your side of the case."



"Who is this man?" demanded Craig.



The Lord Chancellor turned a page of his folder and double-checked the name, before he looked up and said, "Sir Nicholas Moncrieff."



CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX



DANNY SAT IN his usual alcove seat at the Dorchester reading The Times. The cycling correspondent reported the Minister of Sport's surprise choice for the velodrome site. It managed a few column inches, tucked in between canoeing and basketball.



Danny had checked through the sports pages of most of the national newspapers earlier that morning and those which bothered to report the minister's statement agreed that she had been left with little choice. None of them, not even The Independent, had had enough space to inform its readers what Japanese knotweed was.



Danny checked his watch. Gary Hall was running a few minutes late and Danny could only imagine the recriminations which must be going on in the offices of Baker, Tremlett and Smythe. He turned to the front page, and was reading about the latest twist in the North Korea nuclear threat, when an out-of-breath Hall appeared by his side.



"Sorry to be late," he gasped, "but the senior partner called me in just as I was about to leave the office. Quite a bit of flack flying around following the minister's statement. Everyone is blaming everyone else." He took a seat opposite Danny and tried to compose himself.



"Just relax and let me order you a coffee," said Danny as Mario walked across.



"And another hot chocolate for you, Sir Nicholas?" Danny nodded, put down his paper and smiled at Hall. "Well, at least no one can blame you, Gary," he said.



"Oh, no one thinks I was even involved," said Hall. "Which is why I've been promoted."



"Promoted?" said Danny. "Congratulations."



"Thank you, but it wouldn't have happened if Gerald Payne hadn't been sacked." Danny somehow managed to stifle a smile. "He was summoned to the senior partner's office first thing this morning and told to clear his desk and be off the premises within an hour. One or two of us found ourselves promoted in the fallout."



"But didn't they realize that it was you and me who took the idea to Payne in the first place?"



"No. Once it turned out that you couldn't raise the full amount, it suddenly became Payne's idea. In fact, you're regarded as someone who's lost his investment, and may even have a claim against the company." Something Danny hadn't even considered-until then.



"I wonder what Payne will do now?" said Danny, probing.



"He'll never get another job in our business," said Hall. "Or at least not if the senior partner has anything to do with it."



"So what will the poor fellow do?" asked Danny, still fishing.



"His secretary tells me he's gone down to Sussex to stay with his mother for a few days. She's chairman of the local constituency that he's still hoping to represent at the next election."



"I can't see why that should be a problem," said Danny, hoping to be contradicted. "Unless of course he advised any of his constituents to invest in Japanese knotweed."