Written sometime in 2010
During my time in the early 1980s when I was the senior RAF officer at the Joint Services Interrogation Wing (JSIW) in Kent, I was invited, from time to time, to the Metropolitan Police College at Hendon in North London to give a presentation on what we taught military personnel about Conduct After Capture and Resistance to Enemy Interrogation – my two specialist subjects. I always made a point of stressing that we, the military, always adhered strictly to the Geneva Convention. What the police rules were, was none of our business.
Following the assault on the Iranian Embassy between 30 April and 5 May 1980 I was additionally invited to give a one-off presentation to candidates hoping to join the UK Diplomatic Service. (Search for ‘Iranian Embassy siege London 1980’ if you wish to read about that siege.) A few days after giving that presentation, I was invited to attend, as an official observer, a field exercise being held in the north of England where those of the candidates who were ‘caught’ would be brought in for interrogation by selected police officers posing as enemy agents. (I have deliberately not published the location of the police station.)
I had been told in advance that one of the candidates I watched, on CCTV, being ‘interrogated’ had been briefed to make contact with a ‘defecting foreign agent’ using a pre-arranged ID procedure following which he would be given further orders. The RV was, would you believe, in the middle of the night inside a public toilet in the town centre somewhere in the vicinity of the Police HQ. It did not go well! The candidate was approached, as he expected, inside the toilets by a scruffy-looking man (who I believe was actually a local police sergeant who had volunteered to act as the ‘foreign agent’). They went through the mutual identification procedure correctly but then the ‘foreign agent’, acting on his own briefing, made an improper sexual suggestion. The candidate was so shocked that he immediately revealed that he was on an exercise and working for the UK Government. He gave the ‘foreign agent’ his real name, his proper ID, and a telephone number where he could speak to someone who would instantly verify his credentials.
Needless to add, as far as the candidate was concerned, the exercise was over. Later, I told the organisers that I thought it had been a sneaky idea to get the ‘foreign agent’ to make an improper suggestion to the candidate. I was firmly told that real enemy agents will use any tactics to get what they need to know. In other words, "mind your own business, Cunnane!"
Pages about my time at JSIW are on my autobiography website starting here. (Opens in a new window.)