For UNIT UK, life in 1970 started as quietly as 1969 had. Later developments, however, saw them jump to a level of activity that would last throughout the first half of the new decade and was greater, as a whole, than during any other time in the organisation's history.
If the Mars Probe Crisis was the most public event that UNIT was involved in, the Inferno Project would have been its least public operation if it hadn't been for Daily Chronicle Journalist James Stevens' Bad Science series. Papered with D-Notices, the Inferno Project was an attempt to drill into the Earth's core. The government poured millions of pounds into the project in the hope that it would release superheated natural gases that could be used to generate cheap electricity.
In February 1970, the project was abandoned, its executive director, Sir Keith Gold, resigned his post at the Ministry of Science and has always refused to talk about the project. Records report a number of unexplained deaths during the five days before the project was abandoned, including the project director Professor Eric Stahlman. These records also tell us that UNIT and the UNIT Doctor were involved.
Of those involved in Project Inferno, only one man is willing to speak about what he experienced - Greg Sutton, an Australian drilling expert who had been working in Kuwait just a few weeks before the incident. Greg is now married to Petra Williams, Stahlman's PA, and they are living in Australia.
Unfortunately, Sutton's story is, in part, rather far-fetched. The more reasonable parts of the story means that Stahlman was obsessed with the project and Sir Keith Gold was trying to reign him in. The far-fetched aspect of the story concerns some green slime in the drilling shaft that turned men into monsters.
Sutton also claims that, the UNIT Doctor stopped the project from proceeding just seconds before it would have penetrated the Earth's crust. As an interesting aside, Sutton recalls that the Doctor claimed to have been to a parallel universe where Project Inferno was not stopped and caused the planet to split apart.
Whilst Sutton's story isn't impossible and actually seems quite in tune with much of what you would expect from incidents involving UNIT, we only actually have one witness who dared to say anything, and it would be remiss to believe such a bizarre story from the evidence of just one witness. Sutton would probably approve of our sceptical attitude, as he didn't believe the Doctor's story about the parallel universe.
If James Stevens hadn't tracked down Sutton during his research for his Bad Science articles published in late February 1970, the story would never have come to light and would remain a secret. As it was, however, the story became the second in a series of four articles which blew the government apart. The Bad Science series, starting with an article outlining general government blunders in science over the course of the last year, continuing with Sutton's story about Project Inferno, an expose on the C-Day fiasco and ending with a look at the Wenley Moor Plague, led to three ministers being forced to resign. Within a short period of time, fresh elections were held because of the scandal and subsequent collapse of the government, leading to a hung parliament where Jeremy Thorpe's Liberals rose to prominence.
In April 1970, there is some evidence that Department C-19 experienced some kind of power struggle. The only public evidence of this was an assassination attempt on Sir John Sudbury, the nominal head of C-19. Whilst Sudbury himself survived the attempt, his private secretary Clive Fortescue, a parliamentary driver Alan Morton and journalist Michael Wagstaffe were all killed. As the Prime Minister was, at the time, standing next to this group, this was publicly proclaimed as an IRA attack on the PM.
The assassin was never caught, but the weapon used was confirmed as a top secret model used by security in the Glasshouse. Soon after this, the director of the Glasshouse, Sir Marmaduke Harrington-Smythe, resigned. The Glasshouse was then taken over directly by C-19. This would suggest that personnel from the Glasshouse were directly involved. There are, however, a number of other incidents that occurred at the same time which may be connected to the power struggle.
Firstly, and most importantly, a top secret government installation in the Cheviot Hills was shut down, and a UNIT presence was definitely involved in closing of the site. Although this event is not recorded in any official report, we have several eyewitness accounts and unofficial documents from different sources to confirm this suspicion.
These events happened at the same time as a UNIT investigation in the town of Smallmarshes in Kent. The investigation appears to have been connected to the disappearance of Marc Marshall, son of Tory MP Alan Marshall - who was killed in an explosion at his house. The explosion was officially credited to a gas leak. The co-incidence between these events may be merely timing, but there may be a direct connection. If our speculations elsewhere about C-19 are correct, this may well have been a watershed period where less scrupulous elements took greater power within C-19, or when they were suppressed.
Soon after this event, Professor Shaw began a leave of absence from her post at UNIT and returned to research at Cambridge. After her return to UNIT, she only stayed for a short period. In addition, UNIT obtained a substantial boost to its funds and hence Sergeant Mike Yates was promoted to Captain.
During June 1970, UNIT UK was involved in several international incidents. Following a battle outside Cambridge and an investigation in the Solent area, records show that UNIT UK let the UNIT Doctor and Professor Shaw travel to the Soviet Union to assist the Soviet branch of UNIT. Meanwhile, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart travelled to Geneva, where eyewitness accounts describe him engaging in battles with and against UNIT troops. UNIT UK and Soviet UNIT troops are also recorded as having travelled to an isolated military establishment in the USA.