Much has already been said and written about this government's mendacity. To supplement these expressions of justified contempt would, in my view, be futile. Actions can speak louder than words provided that, firstly, the rationale is morally sound and, secondly, non-violent methods are used.
I have been asked often about what would, in some quarters, seem to be an obsession with the 2001 Foot-and-Mouth epidemic. My answer is simple: it revealed the malignant core of a ruthless oligarchy hell-bent on diminishing and neutralising Britain's rural community - the few upon whom so many depend. Sickened by what I heard and saw, being mute was not an option.
During August 2001, I wrote a satire on the FMD Crisis: this was published on Phundria's web-site towards the end of that month. At the time, I had intended to comment no further on FMD once my article was available for perusal on The Internet. Then came the outrage of September 11th ...
In the wake of that fateful day, a massive intelligence operation was launched in Britain, involving not only MI5/MI6 and Special Branch officers but also CIA/FBI agents. Their collective remit was to investigate all organisations and individuals suspected of dissension. Whilst such action was understandable and, in the pursuit of justice, necessary, the methodology used in one particular case aroused far more than mere deep anger. I refer to the morning of Thursday October 25th 2001.
From Saturday 20th October until Thursday 25th October 2001, I was staying with a friend at St. Peter's Port, Guernsey. I returned to my flat in Weymouth shortly before 1930 hrs.
Whenever I was away (that being BEFORE 25th October) for three or more consecutive days, I notified my local neighbourhood watch coordinator and the Police, giving them details of how I can be contacted in the event of an emergency - for example, a burglary. This procedure was followed shortly before travelling to Guernsey.
My immediate neighbour heard somebody in my flat between 0930 hrs and 1130 hrs on Thursday 25th October and assumed that I had returned home: he knew I was away until that day but did not realise I was due back in the evening. So, as far as he was concerned, nothing abnormal had occurred. It was not until the following day, during a conversation with him, that we both realised something suspicious had taken place.
When I arrived home on Thursday evening, I sensed something was "not quite right" but failed to establish the cause of my unease. After talking with my neighbour, I realised that my computer plug - as always, removed from the wall-socket when not in use - was not in the position I had left it prior to visiting Guernsey.
People who know me say that I am very pernickety. Indeed, an understatement! Attention to detail, coupled with a good memory, are of paramount importance to my methodology.
As far as my flat was concerned, there were NO signs of forced entry and NOTHING material had been stolen. Therefore, it was most probable that data stored on my computer concerned the intruder. It would be easy to access the hard disc, locate the desired information, copy it onto a "floppy," shut down the computer and leave. Gaining entry to my premises required nothing more elaborate than a set of skeleton keys.
I reported the incident (minus suspicions about computer data theft) to my neighbourhood watch coordinator and the Police. Only they knew the details of when I was due back. In other words, ONLY they knew FOR CERTAIN that I would not be at home on the morning of Thursday 25th October.
It was on Saturday 26th October when I informed Mr. Walter Berghaus, my neighbourhood watch coordinator, and the Police. At around 1730 hrs that day, an officer from the Hampshire and Dorset Constabulary took a statement from me. Since then, I have had no further contact with the force. As nothing had been physically stolen or damaged, there was probably little - if anything - that could be done to apprehend the culprit.
The following day, I had a most illuminating conversation with Mr. Berghaus. At the time, I attached little import to his remarks. However, after careful consideration coupled with a gradual impression that I am "persona non grata" with his wife, I have suspicions that Mr. Berghaus may have been coerced into facilitating the intelligence service's unauthorised entry to my flat.
Until its disbandment in the early 1990s, Mr. Berghaus was a member of the Royal Observer Corps. As such, he would have been required to sign the Official Secrets Act.
Shortly before my return from Guernsey, he relinquished his role as Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator but when asked why this happened, especially as he was highly regarded for his caring attitude, Mr. Berghaus became evasive.
Now, upon reflection, there is barely any doubt in my mind that by mentioning the Royal Observer Corps as well as Neighbourhood Watch matters, he was trying to tell me something without falling foul of the Official Secrets Act.
It does not require an extraordinary feat of imagination to construct a likely encounter between Mr. Berghaus and intelligence officers on the morning of Thursday 25th October 2001...
"Good Morning, Mr. Berghaus. I'm Chief Inspector Bob Minion from Scotland Yard Special Branch and this is Trevor Pratt from the Ministry of Defence. I understand you live near a Mr. Mark Brook. ...Yes, we know he's in Guernsey at present. Due back at around 7:30 this evening? ... Ah, good.
"We need to look around Mr. Brook's flat. I gather he has left his spare keys with you. Yes? ... Splendid. ... Oh, our Mark's been a bad lad. Can't go into details, you know.
"Please be assured. Mr. Brook will never know we've been in. ... I will remind you of a certain document you signed many years ago. You did a damned good job in The Corps. It's a different enemy now - I'm sure you understand we mean business.
"We'll return the keys within the hour. Oh, and Mr. Berghaus - I am obliged to tell you that Mr. Brook must never learn of this. If he does, there will be repercussions. ... No, no! I'm not doubting your integrity for one minute! ... We really appreciate your help. ... Well, time to proceed, I think. See you in a while."
The irony is that had I been approached directly by members of the Security Services, they would have found me most accommodating. If they had wished to examine the contents of my computer hard disc - and/or, for that matter, the few floppy discs I possess - then no obstacles would have been put in their way. My enquiries into the FMD Crisis were, when compared with media journalists given specific briefs, hardly earth-shattering! I had nothing to hide.
Although, as a satirist, I have sometimes taken officialdom to task, I have never supported, and abhore organisations of an extremist, fundamentalist nature. Having participated in no violent protest actions, I would be most alarmed if my name had become associated with such behaviour. Although capable of defending myself against acts of aggression, the last time my hands were raised in anger as an initiator of conflict was during my mid-teens.
It is unfortunate that since 25th October 2001, I have probably been stigmatized as a closet subversive by Mrs. Berghaus. As her husband is bound by the Official Secrets Act, I would not be able to dampen any suspicions without compromising their - and my - welfare.
However, something I may have said and/or written brought me to the attention of Westminster/Whitehall's more shady apparatchics. It did not take me very long to find out ...
During August 2001, my article "Transcript of the Jonathan Proctor interview with Sir Rupert Mainwaring" made reference to a top-secret FMD incubation experiment which took place on a ministry farm in Southern Scotland. At the time of writing, I had received anecdotal information - of a most paltry nature - that such an establishment may have existed either in Dumfries & Galloway, The Borders Region or Northern England. There were rumours that itinerant farm workers from New Zealand employed at this farm had been subject to Official Secrets Act protocols.
My imagination filled in the gaps. The satire eventually came to be read by those whose occupations involve the protection of "national interests" and suppression of would-be "troublemakers." Mark Brook's name was added to a long list of people to be investigated. The fall-out from September 11th provided opportunities too good to miss ...
The unauthorised, illegal entry to my premises has filled me with a cold fury coupled with a grim resolve to discover what really happened during those dark months prior to mid-February 2001. At this time of writing - March 10th 2003 - I am, at last, beginning to "square the circle."
I have not only identified the ministry's farming complex but also a number of potential satellite establishments. Current enquiries, although painstaking and slow, are yielding much of interest.
Following 25th October 2001, I have had to revise my preconceptions and prejudices concerning FMD. If I was to be serious and committed in finding out the truth, no matter how unpalatable, then giving credence to lurid conspiracy theories - of which there were plenty - would be absurd without some form of hard supporting evidence.
The sequence of articles I wrote giving background details to the Jonathan Proctor Interview (1st November & 21st November 2001) relied, for the greater parts, on anecdotal information. Although veracity is doubtless, it does NOT constitute the solid evidence which would withstand skillful cross-examination.
A friend of mine with not only legal credentials but also sharing deep suspicions about the FMD Crisis told me that it would be impossible to prove Westminster/Whitehall's connivance regarding the epidemic's source and spread, whether by wilful default or as a direct act of state sponsored terrorism. Reluctantly, I had to concur. In any event, the likelyhood of contentious official documents ever coming to light, even if extant, remains mere wishful thinking.
However, there are other ways and means. The general public deserve open, trustworthy governance and it is plain, even to the intellectually challenged, that they are starting to demonstrate zero tolerance of blatant dishonesty, of which there has been an abundance from the New Labour administration!
Had the September 11th atrocities not taken place, then I am in no doubt that the FMD Crisis would still have been a major media issue. The government's unwillingness to hold a full, "no holds barred" public enquiry would certainly have reinforced the clear perception that here was a deceitful authority with something to hide.
Increasing public outrage towards New Labour's institutionalised arrogance is being clearly demonstrated by antipathy for the sycophantic backing of U.S. President (sic) Bush and his asinine regime's imminent rampage through Iraq. Doubtless, other countries, unwilling to participate in his vision of a Brave New World Order, will be similarly "liberated."
By the end of April this year, I will have acquired sufficient information to present some questions to New Labour concerning its role in the FMD Crisis. As far as I am concerned, any attempts to either obfuscate, ridicule or ignore these will be interpreted as acts of cowardice. Both questions and, if forthcoming, answers will be available on The Internet. In addition, written copies are to be circulated widely.
I hope to be proved wrong but there is a strong possibility that the State's "hidden hands" will be given something additional to do. It would be foolish of me to dismiss such a threat.
I have ensured that behaviour of that nature will neither pass unnoticed nor unrecounted. "D" Notices and other suppressive measures will be ineffectual.
When the Public Enquiry into the 2001 FMD Crisis takes place ( and it IS a matter of "when," not "if"), I will be presenting a considerable quantity of material.
Mark Brook, Weymouth, Dorset.
11th March 2003.