Once again, a significant figure from a previous season of Line of Duty has returned to play a major role in the ongoing sixth series – with corrupt lawyer Jimmy Lakewell key to the events of the dramatic fourth episode.
Lakewell, played by The Office star Patrick Baladi, was last seen on the show back in series four when he was sent to prison after AC-12 had uncovered his role in a major cover-up.
His return isn't wholly unexpected – fans reckoned they'd spotted his voice on the audio file recovered from Gail Vella's laptop back in episode two, and that theory turned out to be spot on.
But who is Jimmy Lakewell? And what's his role been in the series so far? Read on for everything you need to know.
Why is Jimmy Lakewell in prison?
To understand why Jimmy was imprisoned in the first place, we have to go back to the events of series four, which revolved around an AC-12 investigation into DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton).
Jimmy was first introduced as an old school friend of Roz's husband Nick, for whom he had regularly acted as a lawyer through his firm Lakewell, Dean & Stevenson, and was seen encouraging Ted Hastings to stop his questioning of Nick.
Throughout the series, though, it emerged that he was very much working hand-in-hand with the OCG, and was playing a crucial role in covering up evidence related to Operation Trapdoor – the investigation that Roz had been leading.
Jimmy's role came out during the season four finale, when Roz confessed to her own involvement during a tense interview scene with AC-12 and linked a mystery burner phone to Jimmy's movements, implicating him in the cover-up (more on that further down).
Interestingly Jimmy had been acting as Roz's lawyer until directly before she exposed him, and had just been about to stand down owing to a conflict of interests before she gave her testimony.
Jimmy was then sent to prison after he refused to testify and turned down the opportunity to join witness protection – explaining that "there are some people there's no immunity from" – and he had remained there until the events of this episode.
- For the latest news and expert tips on getting the best deals this year, take a look at our Black Friday 2021 and Cyber Monday 2021 guides.
What was Jimmy Lakewell's role in the cover up?
Throughout this series – and indeed last series – Steve Arnott's ongoing back problems have played a major part in the story, and those problems can be traced back to an incident back in series four.
Specifically, they can be traced back to an incident for which Jimmy Lakewell is largely responsible – the scene in which Arnott was thrown down the stairs at Lakewell, Dean & Stevenson by a mystery 'balaclava man'.
It was Jimmy who had essentially tipped the assailant off as to Steve's whereabouts, as Roz proved during her aforementioned interview with AC-12.
Using the burner phone as evidence, Roz revealed that Jimmy had alerted ACC Derek Hilton to Steve's arrival at his offices, who in turn had sent the balaclava man after him in order to stop him from uncovering any further evidence.
And that wasn't Lakewell's sole role in the cover-up – he had also been responsible for framing Michael Farmer, a young man with learning difficulties who was wrongly accused of playing a part in the crimes being investigated by Operation Trapdoor.
Farmer had been falsely accused of rape when he was 16 years old some years earlier and had been represented at that time by Lakewell, who later identified Farmer to the OCG as someone they could easily frame – as Roz explained during her testimony.
When he was questioned later, Lakewell confirmed that rather than being one balaclava man, there were several – each operating as part of the OCG headed up by 'H' – and this essentially exonerated Farmer.
What was Jimmy Lakewell's OCG link?
So, now that we've established the role Jimmy played in helping the OCG, the question is... why he was working for them in the first place?
Well, it's heavily implied that similar to Tony Gates in series one he was being blackmailed by the group – left with little choice but to comply with their demands.
Speaking to Steve after being exposed, he explained, "If you don't do their bidding, a body gets taken out of cold storage with your DNA all over it."
So while he's certainly guilty, it appeared that Jimmy had been controlled by the OCG all along....