Banned by MI-6: The Golden Chain – Chapter 1


Richard Moore

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The Golden Chain - Chapter 1

Here's the first chapter of the novel I was writing, which according to the 
police is in potentially breach of the Official Secrets Act. I've written to the
police and Treasury Solicitor and told them that I am not going to answer their 
letters until they either charge me, or drop their investigation and return my 
belongings. And if they are going to charge me, then they should also charge 
Stella Rimington for the same offence.

Chapter 1

The bags had been sitting in the corner of the backroom gathering dust for 
nearly three months. One smart lockable suitcase, too big for cabin luggage, and
a black leather grip she had bought in Paris. She never went anywhere without 
the grip. The shoulder strap had been repaired at the heel bar down the road at 
least three times to Delaney¹s knowledge, but still she would insist.

³I know it¹s old and knocked about, but the leather is good and it¹s the perfect
size,² she had told him. ³I know exactly where everything is in that bag, so 
you¹re wasting your time², she had countered when he offered to replace it. 
³Besides which, it doesn¹t have a stupid logo.²

That was the clincher. Derry was not one for logos. Nor was she to be dislodged 
once she had made up her mind. A product of the Architect¹s Association at UCL, 
she had dazzled as a postgrad with a thesis on vernacular buildings within the 
Ottoman Empire. Her eye missed nothing. They had made countless trips to Turkey,
Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, to out of the way dusty towns, guidebook in one hand,
camera in the other.

Once, in the late eighties, they had got as far as Baghdad and spent an 
afternoon in the Shawaka House, a truly sublime residence close to the fish 
market in the Jadiriyah district, built in the eighteenth century and owned by 
an old Ottoman family. The visit had been fixed up by a friend at the nearby 
British Embassy. Delaney remembered the inner courtyard with its fountain, the 
balcony on the first floor and a cool evening breeze coming off the Tigris as it
raced towards the Gulf. They had joked about making an offer for the house. How 
times had changed. Delaney wondered if it was still standing.

Now, yet again, he contemplated opening the bags. He had dealt with everything 
else. The funeral had been a nightmare. He¹d written to her relatives and 
friends, planned and attended the memorial service, cleared her clothes ­ dealt 
with every aspect of the bureaucracy of death. All that was left of her was in 
these two rude containers.

Stephen Delaney had not returned to work since her death. A senior partner in a 
City bank, his colleagues had made no fuss. ³Take you time, you¹ll know when 
it¹s right to come back,² Jonathan Lyddiat, the chairman had reassured him. 
Distinctly old school, Lyddiat was proud for it to be known that the bank looked
after its own. Discreetly, someone had told him that his annual bonus was safe. 
Not that it mattered that much to Delaney. He had made enough during his fifteen
years in the City never to have to work again.

As he sat there in the first floor back bedroom of the tall London townhouse he 
felt the emotions well up inside him. It would be easy to put this off again for
another day. ŒWhat¹s the point?¹ he argued to himself. ŒWhere is this taking 
me?¹ But today was different. For the first time since he had received the 
terrible news of her death in Dubai, Delaney felt strong. The anger and the 
grief had sublimated and been replaced by a quiet determination to get to the 
bottom of Derry¹s death.

He pulled over the suitcase. She always used the numbers 472 on combination 
locks and sure enough, the mechanism clicked and the two halves jumped apart 
under the pressure of the contents. Once again, he felt his stomach heave. It 
was the smell. It was her, a heady odour cocktail of clothes and perfumes. He 
stopped for a moment to steady himself before opening the case flat on the 

When Fitzgerald, the fellow from the Foreign Office, had come round to deliver 
the bags, he had told Delaney that they had already been gone through. ³I¹m 
sorry, Mr Delaney, but in a situation like this, we had to check everything. The
Dubai authorities had seized it all anyway. A few things were taken away, as I 
am sure you will understand.²

Slowly he unbuckled the straps holding the bulging contents firmly into the two 
halves. His hands trembled as he carefully lifted out the contents one by one 
and placed them in a pile by his side ­ a couple of smart trouser suits, (her 
preferred outfit when she was travelling in the Middle East), ditto shirts and 
slips. There was the long blue Chinese silk coat with a vicar¹s collar that he 
remembered buying for her, in Istanbul of all places. He almost smiled to 
himself. She said it would never fit when she first saw it, but it was perfect.

Suddenly he was back there, in the Sublime Porte. They had stayed at the Yeshil 
Ev - the Green House, an old Ottoman family home that had been turned into a 
hotel close by his favourite building in the world, Aya Sophia. Someone had once
described the great church-mosque as a giant squatting frog and that appealed to
him. The Yeshil Ev¹s garden was beautiful, set in high walls around a large 
fountain. They had sat there planning their routes around the city, taking green
tea and Turkish biscuits from superior china off spotless tablecloths.

It was the essence of her that had swept his consciousness out of the room and 
then, just as quickly, back in again. He realised it himself, almost with a 
start. He pushed the large case out of the way and reached over to the black 
grip. Its sturdy zip was locked to a steel ring with yet another combination 
lock. Click! Click! Click! 4 ­ 7 ­ 2. The lock sprang open and he unzipped the 

Inside, there was a jumble of bits and pieces ­ electrical adapters, a torch, 
three packets of chewing gum (her only vice), a couple of, sunglasses, a make-up
bag, a sachet of babywipes, a scarf and a folded desert hat. Once again he 
smelled her. This time his eyes begin to fill. He let the tears flow and they 
stopped after a while.

Tucked into one corner of the grip was a familiar face. Mr Brando! Her bloody 
dolly! (OK, so she had a couple of vices). When she was away she would tease 
him, telling him at the end of their long distance conversations she was off to 
spend the night with Mr Brando. In fact, Mr Brando was a knitted sheep. He 
looked more worn than ever. Some of his stitches were coming undone and had been
resewn with white cotton.

He picked up the threadbare comforter and made to place it to one side. He would
keep it, he thought. But there was something not quite right. Mr Brando didn¹t 
feel right. He was far too heavy. Delaney began to pull at the loose threads 
when he felt something slip through his fingers. It was a little blue leather 
bag. Inside was a heavy gold chain and an expensive-looking business card, its 
owner¹s name boldly embossed, in English on one side, Arabic on the other:

Dr Omar Haznawi
Gulfport Builders Group
Dubai, London, New York.

On the back of the card, in a neat hand, was a short handwritten message: 
ŒDearest Derry, I hope you find this amusing, Omar¹.

Delaney didn¹t take it in at first. He was about to put the little bag to one 
side when suddenly he was hit with the force of a tidal wave. He could hear the 
blood rushing in his ears. What was some businessman doing giving his wife an 
expensive piece of jewellery? Nothing was making sense. After nearly 20 years 
together he couldn¹t believe that now, when there was nothing he could do about 
it, he had discovered an infidelity.

Still reeling from the shock, Delaney made his way downstairs, the little 
leather bag and its contents in his hand. He sat down at the kitchen table and 
once again emptied it in front of him. His hands trembling, he held the chain up
in front of him. It was a necklace, the gold shimmering in red and yellow. This 
was no ordinary piece and had clearly come from the gold souk in Dubai, where it
must have cost thousands. But it was hopeless trying to understand. The 
shockwaves of the find were still pulsating through his body and every time he 
tried to reason it out, his mind began to race.

He desperately tried to put his thoughts in order. It had been three months, 
almost to the day, since he had received a call at work from someone in the 
Foreign Office. Derry, his wife of 17 years and an architect with an 
international clientele, had been killed in Dubai. She had gone to pitch for a 
contract ­ fitting out the top two floors of a massive and prestigious new tower
block in the oil state. The brief had been very specific ­ modern, but 
distinctly Arab. There had been some uncertainty over whether or not the client 
would accept a female architect, but Derry¹s good Arabic, her reputation and, of
course, her charm, had won the day.

³It¹s going to be a couple of weeks, I¹m afraid,² she had told him before she 
left. Delaney had not been concerned. With no children to worry about, they both
lived on the move - he was always too and fro to New York; most of her clients 
were Arabs, either in the Middle East or in their London and Spanish 

Ten days later he had received the call from the Foreign Office. Derry had died 
in a car accident. She had been in a hire car, alone, and had driven off the 
corniche into a wall at one in the morning. It was as simple as that. Her 
injuries were not extensive, just a simple bump to the head. But it had been 
enough to kill her immediately.

The body had been brought back to England, the necessary arrangements made. 
Delaney had been surprised at the funeral by the presence of a small group of 
men and women. He recognised none of them. Well dressed, they paid their 
respects and left just as anonymously as they had arrived.

A week after the funeral he had had the visit from Fitzgerald, who brought the 
luggage with him. That was the second point at which Delaney¹s world began to 
fold in on itself.

³Look, I know this is going to come as a bit of a shock,² Fitzgerald had told 
him, ³but Derry sometimes did a bit of work for the government. On the side, so 
to speak.²

Delaney didn¹t immediately take in what Fitzgerald was saying. He knew that 
businessmen were often approached for a friendly word by all sorts of government
officials. He too had had the odd approach from suits at the Bank of England or 
the Department of Trade, asking him if he knew anything about so-and-so. He 
usually helped if he could, but it was always a bit awkward. Client 
confidentiality was his bread and butter.

Fitzgerald clocked his indifference, but persisted. ³In fact, she was working 
for us on this trip to Dubai.²

This time he caught Delaney¹s attention. ³What do you mean she was working for 
you? Who the fuck are you?²

³Well, it¹s a bit difficult to explain in detail. The Foreign Office likes to 
keep up with developments abroad, particularly when it comes to business 
opportunities. We asked her to check out a few details about one of her clients.
Nothing too drastic, just the usual stuff, you know, associates, that kind of 
thing. In fact, I have been asked to tell you that Derry has been put up for an 
honour ­ a CBE in fact. Would you be willing to accept it on her behalf?²

³Is that why she died? Is that what you have come here to tell me?² Delaney felt
his blood begin to boil.

³God no!² replied Fitzgerald. ³We have carried out the most extensive forensic 
tests. The car has been checked over. Blood tests, you know, all that kind of 
thing. All we can surmise at the moment is that she fell asleep at the wheel, 
drifted across the road and hit a wall. The Dubai authorities have classed it as
an accident.²

At the time, Delaney just couldn¹t take it all in. His wife had never mentioned 
working for the Foreign Office. What was the connection? How long had this been 
going on? He told Fitzgerald he would get back to him, but today, three months 
later, he¹d done nothing about it.

Now he¹d found this chain and the card. What did they mean? What was the ³joke²?
A thousand thought raced through his mind. Did Omar Haznawi have anything to do 
with her death? Did he really know his wife? Her death had been hard enough. It 
had shattered his world. He kept on seeing her face in people in the street. He 
couldn¹t get used to being alone. Every time his mobile rang he checked to see 
if it was her name on the display. He had withdrawn from his circle of friends. 
Sure, they still called, anxious to know if everything was alright. Did he want 
to come to a dinner party? A weekend away in the country? He said no to all of 
them. First things first. He was going to get to the bottom of what had happened
to Derry.

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