Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Evil was hanging out of him,"...I spat in his face.. He never even blinked. It was not satisfying, it was humiliating, I lost my cool."

A top RUC interrogator has revealed how he lost his cool and SPAT in the face of Brighton Bomber Patrick Magee after he failed to crack during questioning.

And the former Special Branch member also does not deny cocking a gun and pointed it at the head of top IRA man Brendan Hughes inside an interrogation room.

The ex-RUC officer claims to have fled Northern Ireland ahead of an IRA hit-team sent to kill him.

He was tracked down and interviewed for a piece on global interrogation techniques published in the respected Washington Post newspaper.

Described as "one of Britain's most experienced interrogators", the officer described how he began working inside Castlereagh and other centres back in 1971.

Among those he came to face to face with were Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands.

But Magee, who served 14 years for his involvement in the 1984 Brighton bombing, was among the toughest of them all.

The interrogator, whose identity was protected and was named only as 'James', professed his regret at losing his temper.

Magee did not crack, James said, and was about to walk out a free man.

As he walked "he just stared at you. Evil was hanging out of him," said the interrogator before describing how he spat in his face. He never even blinked. It was not satisfying, it was humiliating.

"I lost my cool."

The interrogator also did not deny cocking a gun at the head of Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes - the veteran IRA member who was officer commanding the Maze prior to the 1981 hunger strike.

In answer to the question whether he used the gun in an attempt to intimidate Hughes, James told the Post: "You fight fire with fire."

The article was published amid controversy over the interrogation techniques used by the US in the so-called 'war on terror'.

One of those interviewed expressed his deep disquiet at some of the methods used.

But James has few regrets and claims torture never happened in Northern Ireland - in spite of European Court rulings to the contrary.

"You've got to get up and get on with it - that's what we did," said James.

"Yes, a bloke would get a cuff in the ear, or he might brace against the wall.

"Yes, they had sleep deprivation.

"But we did not torture."

slnews@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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