Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Chapter 8

In a large, open-plan office in a modern building overlooking Cardiff Bay, Gilbert was hard at work. A dozen or so people sat at desks spread all about the office, the steady hum of the air conditioning and the occasional tap of a keyboard the only sounds. Then, a large, network printer that sat squat on a desk in the middle of the office burst into life, and began churning out pages of print. It was the cue for Dave Morris to jump up from his seat, move across to the printer and grab the papers. For a moment or two he stared at the closely-printed data. A smile flicked across his face and, still reading the papers, he headed towards the desk of his section advisor, Tom Gauntless.

Gauntless was a dour man, not much one for praising his staff, yet respected by them all. Almost single handedly he had worked to establish the Family Health Services Counter Fraud Operation which his civil service masters now allowed him to manage. Working from this one national office, his team devoted their energies to identifying, investigating and preparing prosecutions of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and opticians who might be on the make. The multi-billion pound budget of the health service was easy cover for those few professionals who wanted to take advantage, and it was Gauntless and his men and women who were paid to stop them. He looked up as his young deputy approached, noticing he seemed to be pleased with himself.

“It’s Gilbert, sir. I think he’s onto something”. “Gilbert” was Morris’ baby. And an expensive one, at that. It was a complex piece of computer code that acted as a ‘robot’ by scouring its way through the countless millions of transactions that took place in family health services every day. Morris had picked the idea up from the Inland Revenue, who were using similar programmes to track tax evasion on internet-based auction sites. Nevertheless, the ‘idea’ had cost Gauntlet’s office over £300,000 in development time alone and, to date, had produced little of much worth. In fact, Dave had been starting to worry that his own judgement would be in question if something wasn’t found to justify the costs pretty soon.

Morris handed him the sheaf of print-outs. “Here it is, sir. Have a look at this,” he said, pointing at a line on the report “And here. It’s the same pattern each time.”

Gauntless wasn’t sure, at first, what the report was saying. Slowly, however, he got the picture. If “Gilbert” was right, someone had been accessing personal medical records all over the country that they had no right to see.

“Call a team meeting in half an hour, Morris. I think this one might be serious.” Inside Dave Morris’s head a battery of fireworks were going off – his faith in Gilbert had paid off.


Meanwhile, McFry’s office had warmed up enough for him to take off his coat and hang it on the hook next to the door. He dumped the envelopes in his in-tray, and started to finger the package. It was a padded envelope, about eight inches by twelve. Postcode indistinct. No return address. His address written in a tiny, scrawling hand. Quite heavy. He tore at the self-seal strip and pulled the envelope open. Inside, no note – just a buff-coloured cardboard box, perhaps four inches square and an inch deep. He slowly removed the lid, and stared for a moment at the three war medals that were tucked inside, nestling in a bed of tissue paper. This was getting interesting, he thought.

No comments: