By Ed Moloney and Bob Mitchell
Peter Jones is the soldier who the British Army credits with recruiting and running Freddie Scappaticci, the Belfast activist who became a leading figure in the IRA’s spycatcher section, the Internal Security Unit and may have been active as one of the most valued British spies of the Troubles for nearly two decades.
Peter Jones did not rate a mention in the recent BBC Panorama documentary on Steak Knife – presenter John Ware said Jones had refused an interview and so he was excluded from the film – but this is what former NI GOC, General Sir John Wilsey, who served in the same regiment as Jones – The Devon and Dorsetshire’s – wrote about Peter Jones in his memoir of his time in Ireland, ‘The Ulster Tales’:
Peter Jones passes unnoticed in a crowd. Yet this dyslexic former Warrant Officer in the British infantry played so significant a role in Britain’s fight against terrorism during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, that his work as a source handler – that is, recruiter and controller of those prepared to assist the Security Forces – was formally recognised by the award, not just of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal but later of the George Medal too. At the time, only one other serviceman – a bomb disposal officer – held this double distinction.
And here is how he described how Jones, who he calls PJ, recruited Scappaticci, who Wilsey met on one occasion to re-assure him about his safety:
Like a skilled and patient fisherman, PJ read the water well. He bided his time until, intuitively, he judged the moment right to cast his fly. He then hooked and landed his fish. This fish represented the Security Forces’ biggest intelligence breakthrough at the time and, arguably, the Army’s most significant contribution to the whole campaign. PJ had secured a priceless asset that would run and run.
When Jones eventually quit the military, he earned a degree at University and tried his hand at screenwriting. We knew that from his Linkedin profile but had he written any scripts and had any been turned into a TV drama? And if so, was his experience as an agent handler reflected in his storyline?
My colleague and friend, Bob Mitchell, at my request, recently tracked down one script written by Jones, titled ‘Belfast’, which did indeed seem to be based on his military experience fighting the IRA. For Bob’s great work I am grateful. The full script is reproduced below. It has been slightly edited to remove traces of Jones’ contact details.
I was tempted to summarise the plot but thought better of it. If I did that I would be foisting my assessment on readers and that would not be fair. It does not seem that the screenplay was taken up by a production company, but it does allow us to peer a little into Peter Jones’ mind. Anyway read, enjoy and please post your comments and views about the script on the site.