In Manchester, two men escort in a drunk, Dr. James Norbert, into a bar, Gullivers. James harasses the bartender, Johnny, and the two men prepare a camera and tell Johnny to let James grab him. Once James grabs the man, they take some photos and then haul James out to an alleyway. They take another photo of him sitting in the garbage and then take him to an apartment and dump him in bed. A woman in lingerie is waiting and they take photos of her in bed with James. Finally they take him up the back way to his hotel room.
The next day, James lands at the airport where the press is waiting. James greets his daughter, Martha, and they drive away. When he arrives home, he finds the incriminating photos in an envelope and stares at them in shock... and then makes a phone call.
Later, McGill goes to James' hotel room. The manager, Philip Oliver, checks McGill's ID and assures him they take good care of their important guests. He then escorts McGill up to James' office and Martha, working for her father as his secretary, reluctantly lets him into James' office. James asks what McGill knows about him and the former agent is aware that James is an imminent lawyer with a reputation for international jurisprudence. He's in London as the chairman for the first working committee on legislation for outer space. Impatient with all the delays, McGill asks what his problem is and James shows him the photos. He wants McGill because he's been discredited and no one will accept the photos if McGill tries to give them to the press.
McGill warns that he's expensive and asks if the photos are real or fake, and James admits that he doesn't know. He explains that he was lecturing and attending a civic dinner, then went out for a walk. All the lawyer remembers is that he took a drink somewhere. McGill asks where he woke up and James says that he found himself in his hotel room with his money intact. When McGill asks if it's happened before, James denies it and takes offense at the question. The ex-agent tells him that he doesn't care what James thinks of him as long as he pays, and asks what the blackmailers want for the photos. James says that no one has contacted him yet, and insists that he's doing it to protect the committee's work, not just for himself. He gives McGill the hotel where he was staying but objects to McGill taking the photos. McGill tells him to call in the government if he doesn't like it and James caves.
En route to Manchester, McGill studies the photos and notices several china dogs in the bar where James supposedly assaulted the bartender. That night he hits the bars and hires a taxi driver to take around. They eventually get the word on Gullivers and the driver warns him that it's a rough neighborhood. Inside the bar, McGill approaches Johnny, unaware that one of the photographers, Lew Geraghty, is watching him. Johnny denies taking any photos with James and McGill asks to see the owner. The bartender finally tells Lew to watch McGill while he gets the owner, Joe. Lew goes over and picks a fight, and McGill avoids him without throwing a blow.
The assistant manager and the other photographer, Digby Haynes, comes over and realizes that McGill isn't going to go away, and takes him to the owner's office. Joe greets McGill by name and advises him to drop the investigation. McGill tries to run a bluff, saying James will send in the police, but the crime boss is sure that he can have McGill deported with no one the wiser if he makes trouble. Digby and Lew come back with McGill's suitcase from his hotel and Joe advises McGill to walk out while he can still walk. McGill has no choice but to leave.
A man, Simon Croft, is waiting outside the bar in a limo when McGill emerges. He offers McGill a lift to the rail station and makes it clear he knows all about McGill's case. McGill draws a gun on him and tells him to take him back to his hotel. Croft agrees and explains that he's with an international consortium. He pays McGill $500 to find out who is blackmailing James, but McGill says he'll only take one client at a time and gives the money back. Croft warns him that he's in over his head with no one higher up to protect him and gets out, letting the driver take McGill onto his hotel. McGill pockets the money anyway and memorizes the phone number on the limo phone.
Lew and Digby are watching the hotel when McGill arrives. Digby gets in the limo with the ex-agent and warns him that Philip and three American intelligence operatives are stationed in the lobby, waiting for McGill. McGill changes places with the driver, Frederick, and then drives off. The American operatives spot him and go after him.
Martha is at home talking with a reporter on the phone. She goes to get a file and finds the blackmail photos. Martha calmly finishes the phone call with the reporter and then breaks into tears.
McGill drives for London and Frederick points out that a second car has joined the pursuit.
James meets with Sir Giles Watkins to discuss committee business as Martha looks on. The meeting has been delayed for three days and James suspects some kind of plot. Sir Giles assures him that it's typical bureaucratic delay and tells Martha to get her father to take a holiday. Once he leaves, Martha asks if there's more than the committee bothering her father. She takes out the photos and realizes that her father hired McGill. When James says that he has no idea who took them, Martha realizes that it's happening again.
McGill continues driving to London on M1.
James admits to his daughter that he could have handled the blackmail at any other time in his life, but the committee business is at a critical junction. When Martha suggests that he cast the last vote and go home, James tells her not to patronize him.
McGill arrives in London and tells Frederick to throw out McGill's things and take over driving when he stops. He pulls over and they make the switch at a park. The American agent chases McGill into a park and he ambushes his pursuer. However, another agent, Johnson, gets the drop on McGill. They're old "friends," and Johnson says that American intelligence is handling the case and McGill isn't welcome. McGill figures that he won't shoot and runs off.
Once he loses Johnson in the darkness, McGill calls Martha and asks her to meet him at the Ritz. He figures that the parties on him won't touch him if he's with Martha or James, and tells her to be there. When he gets there, Martha is waiting and McGill gives her a hug just as Johnson comes running up. Johnson has no choice but to drop back, and Martha takes McGill up to her father's office. James is drunk and Martha admits that he's fallen off the wagon twice before over the last three years. McGill wonders why they've waited so long and figures that it's about more than money. He demands answers and the lawyer complains about all the pressure on him. Unimpressed, McGill tells him to get down to business and James insists that there is no security involved. He staggers off to bed and Martha insists on watching over him.
McGill burns Croft's money, figuring that it's traceable and part of a setup. He then tells Martha that all they can do is wait and find out what the blackmailers want for the photos. As McGill settles in on the couch, someone calls and asks for him. They tell Martha to inform McGill that they want to meet with him the next morning in Trafalgar Square.
The next morning, McGill goes to Trafalgar Square and finds Simon waiting for him. Simon admits that the various intelligence agencies are working with his consortium because they have a common interest. He then tells McGill to inform James to suppress the conclusions of the committee. His consortium wants to delay the passing of law until they stake their claims. McGill warns that James is an idealist and won't give in to the blackmail, but Simon thinks the lawyer will choose reputation over ideals. As for McGill, Simon says that the 500 pounds he gave him was reported as a robbery. McGill says that he burned the money and Simon congratulates him, but warns that the pressure is still on James.
Back at the hotel, Sir Giles brings word to Martha that the committee has called off the delay and are eager to meet in a few hours. Once he leaves, James comes out of his office and Martha tells him about McGill's meeting with the blackmailer. He figures that the blackmailers will ask for money but Martha isn't so sure. McGill arrives and repeats Simon's offer, and James refuses to give in. Martha suggests that they go to the police and report Croft, but McGill points out that they have no evidence against him. She figures that McGill is working for the blackmailers and her father agrees. McGill tells him to stall while he gets the photos, but warns that it will cost James $5,000 if he succeeds. Martha doesn't trust McGill but James agrees and McGill makes a phone call to the number he memorized earlier. He impersonates Simon and convinces Frederick to say he's at the Lancaster House, and then takes a taxi there. The taxi driver drops McGill off at the side of Lancaster House and Lew and Digby spot him but let him continue.
Martha tries to convince her father that McGill can't get the photos in time. James doesn't care, insisting that his work is important. He refuses to suppress the truth despite Martha's pleas and they leave with the driver for Lancaster House.
Croft enters the conference room at Lancaster House. When Sir Giles objects to his presence, Croft says that he'll go in a few minutes and checks his briefcase.
McGill watches as James arrives and Martha waves to her father as he goes in. Croft comes out and McGill goes after him and grabs the briefcase. However, Lew knocks him out and tosses him into Croft's car, and Frederick drives them off.
James enters the conference room and everyone applauds. When he opens his agenda folder, he discovers that Croft has left copies of the blackmail photos inside.
When McGill wakes up, Croft points out that they had plenty of copies of the photos. He then has Lew toss the ex-agent out of the moving car. Later, a battered McGill makes his way back to James' room and asks Martha for a drink. James arrives with the negatives and McGill realizes that he's sold out. Once Martha goes to pack, McGill accuses James of choosing reputation over idealism. James tells the ex-agent that he has no idea what ideals are as he burns the negatives. The lawyer insists that it was one report and desperately defends his decision to give in. He describes how everyone applauded not only him but what he had accomplished, and insists that he shouldn't have destroyed that. When James worries that there might still be copies, McGill tells him that there won't be and that James should send him a check.
Down in the lobby, Phillip and Johnson confirm that McGill is clear. Johnson says that there are no hard feelings and offers his hand, and McGill says that he can't shake on that.
Up in his office, James picks up the decanter of whiskey and studies it.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 25, 2015