"Thank you," said Payne as he stepped into a large room, sparsely furnished with a partner's desk and two high-backed leather chairs, one on either side.
"Would you care for a cup of tea, Mr. Payne, or perhaps a coffee?"
"No, thank you," said Payne, as he looked out of a window overlooking the square.
She closed the door behind her, and Payne sat down facing Craig's desk; it was almost bare, as if no one worked there-no photos, no flowers, no mementoes, just a large blotting pad, a tape recorder and a bulky, unopened envelope addressed to Mr. S. Craig and marked "Private."
A few minutes later Craig came bursting into the room, closely followed by his secretary. Payne rose and shook hands with him, as if he was a client rather than an old friend.
"Have a seat, old boy," said Craig. "Miss Russell, can you make sure we're not disturbed?"
"Of course, Mr. Craig," she replied, and left, closing the door behind her.
"Is that what I think it is?" asked Payne, pointing at the envelope on Craig's desk.
"We're about to find out," said Craig. "It arrived in the morning post while I was in court." He ripped the envelope open and tipped its contents onto the blotting pad-a small cassette tape.
"How did you get hold of it?" asked Payne.
"Better not to ask," said Craig. "Let's just say I've got friends in low places." He smiled, picked up the tape and slotted it in the cassette player. "We are about to find out what Toby was so keen to share with the rest of the world." He pressed the play button. Craig leaned back in his chair while Payne remained on the edge of his seat, his elbows on the desk. It was several seconds before they heard someone speak.
"I can't be sure which one of you will be listening to this tape." Craig didn't recognize the voice immediately. "It could be Lawrence Davenport-but that seems unlikely. Gerald Payne is a possibility." Payne felt a chill shiver dart through his body. "But I suspect it's most likely to be Spencer Craig." Craig showed no emotion. "Whichever one of you it is, I want to leave you in no doubt that if it takes me the rest of my life, I'm going to make sure that all three of you end up in jail for the murder of Bernie Wilson, not to mention my own unlawful incarceration. If you still hope to get your hands on the tape you were really looking for, let me assure you that it's somewhere you'll never find it, until you're locked up in here."
DANNY LOOKED AT himself in a full-length mirror for the first time in months, and was surprised by his reaction. Nick's influence must have gone further than even he had realized, because he suddenly felt uncomfortably aware that a pair of designer jeans and a West Ham shirt might not be the most appropriate apparel for an appearance at the Royal Courts. He was already regretting having turned down Nick's offer of a sober suit, shirt and tie, which would have been more in keeping with the gravity of the occasion (Nick's words), as the disparity in their size was negligible (two words Danny no longer had to look up).
Danny took his place in the dock and waited for the three judges to appear. He had been driven out of Belmarsh at 7 A.M. in a large white prison van along with twelve other prisoners who were all due to appear at the appeal court that morning. How many of them would be returning that night? On arrival he'd been locked up in a cell and told to wait. It gave him time to think. Not that he would be allowed to say anything in court. Mr. Redmayne had gone through the appeal procedure with him in great detail, and had explained that it was very different from a trial.
Three judges would have trawled through all the original evidence, as well as the transcript of the trial, and would have to be persuaded that there was fresh evidence that the judge and jury had not been privy to before they would consider overturning the original verdict.
Once he had heard the tape, Alex Redmayne was confident that doubt would be planted in their lordships' minds, although he didn't intend to dwell for too long on why Toby Mortimer was unable to appear as a witness.
It was some time before the door of Danny's cell was unlocked, and Alex joined him. After their last consultation, he had insisted that Danny call him by his Christian name. He still refused, as it just didn't feel right, despite the fact that his counsel had always treated him as an equal. Alex began to go over all the new evidence in great detail. Despite Mortimer taking his own life, they were still in possession of the tape, which Alex described as their trump card.
"One should always try to avoid cliches, Mr. Redmayne," Danny said with a grin.
Alex smiled. "Another year and you'll be conducting your own defense."
"Let's hope that won't be necessary."
Danny looked up to where Beth and her mother were seated in the front row of a gallery that was packed with the good citizens of Bow, who were in no doubt that he would be released later that day. He was only sorry that Beth's father was not among them.
What Danny didn't realize was how many more people were standing on the pavement outside the Royal Courts, chanting and holding up placards demanding his release. He glanced down at the press benches where a young man from the Bethnal Green and Bow Gazette sat with his notepad open and his pen poised. Would he have an exclusive for tomorrow's paper? The tape might not prove to be enough in itself, Alex had warned Danny, but once it had been played in court, its contents could be reported in any newspaper in the land, and after that...
Danny was no longer alone. Alex, Nick, Big Al and of course Beth were the generals in what was fast becoming a small army. Alex had admitted that he was still hopeful a second witness might come forward to confirm Mortimer's story. If Toby Mortimer had been willing to confess, wasn't it possible that either Gerald Payne or Lawrence Davenport might, after more than two years of having had to live with their consciences, want to set the record straight?
"Why don't you go and see them?" Danny had asked. "They might just listen to you."
Alex had explained why that wasn't possible, and went on to point out that even if he bumped into one of them socially he could be forced to withdraw from the case, or face a charge of unprofessional conduct.
"Couldn't you send someone else in your place, and have them get hold of the evidence we need, the way Big Al did?"
"No," said Alex firmly. "If such an action were traced back to me, you'd be looking for a new barrister and I'd be looking for another job."
"What about the barman?" Danny asked.
Alex told him that they'd already carried out a background check on Reg Jackson, the barman of the Dunlop Arms, to find out if he had any previous convictions.
"Nothing," said Alex. "He's been arrested twice in the past five years for handling stolen goods, but the police didn't have enough evidence to be sure of a conviction, so the charges were dropped."
"What about Beth?" Danny asked. "Will they give her a second chance to testify?"
"No," replied Alex. "The judges will have read her written testimony as well as the transcript of the trial and they're not interested in repeat performances." He also warned Danny that he couldn't find anything in the judge's summing-up, which suggested sufficient prejudice to seek a retrial. "The truth is, everything rests on the tape."