In the early hours of 30 April 2003, three police Land-Rovers arrived at Alan Barker's door. Twelve armed and uniformed officers accompanied by four plain-clothes detectives entered the house. They stayed for four hours, turning over rooms, seizing bundles of documents, impounding computers, disks, files and anything else that interested them. The family subjected to this dawn raid were treated as common criminals, the operation resembling so many others in Northern Ireland over the Troubles when police and troops swooped on the homes of terrorist suspects. But Alan Barker was and is no terrorist. In fact, he has spent his adult life fighting terrorism on the streets of his native province. This is the book that Downing Street and the Northern Ireland Office don't want you to read. It is a story of courage under fire, guile, Le Carre-esque plots and treachery. Alan Barker belonged to Special Branch, the RUC's elite unit dedicated to fighting the IRA, the INLA and loyalist terrorists.
From the first days of his career in the RUC, when he was almost lured to his death by an IRA Mata-Hari, to his running of agents who inflicted major damage on the Provisionals in Derry, Barker gives a gripping inside account from the front-line struggle against terrorism. He demonstrates how the RUC had inside knowledge of IRA political and military thinking in the build-up to and after the historic 1994 ceasefire, using not only informants but also sophisticated listening devices. The book also details how one of Barker's key intelligence assets, Raymond Gilmour, caused chaos within the ranks of first the Derry INLA and later the IRA.
Alan Barker was born in Belfast in 1955 and joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1973. After three years as a uniform constable he transferred into Special Branch, where he remained for 26 years until his retirement in 2002. He now lives in the south of England, where he is self-employed.