The first detailed document uncovered by the Pat Finucane Centre is a draft document designed to “explore the course of action which the Government might take following the publication of the report of the Compton Committee”.
It was circulated widely within the higher levels of the British government and the British security forces including the then Secretary of State for Defence, Ian Gilmour, Chief of General Staff David Ramsbotham, the Director General of Intelligence, Sir Harold Maguire and Sir Dick White, the Director General of M16.
The report was designed to ascertain whether the security forces could demontrate that their methods “had not gone beyond what was reasonable”.
Referencing the 12 men who were held at Ballykelly, the report went on to discuss the treatment they had been subjected to. The “five techniques” (wall standing, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, hooding and subjection to noise) were each discussed.
The report reads, in relation to wall standing: “Col Nicholson said that on arrival at the interrogation centre, detainees were put against the wall in a stress position for a few minutes only. This was normal procedure while they were searched.
“They were then stood about one pace from the wall with their hands against it. The weight on their arms was not great and this was not a stress position. They were kept like this for varying times but it would never be more than six hours because they would have to be fed at this interval.”
The documents revealed of the 12 original hooded men (two more were interrogated in October) five spent in excess of 30 hours in total “on wall”.
In relation to the practice of “hooding”, Col Nicholson told the report, “most of the detainees want to keep their hoods on in the cells quite voluntarily”. He said detainees wished to keep their hoods on to prevent them being identified by other detainees.
However he admitted the process was designed to have a disorientating effect.
“The most important time with a detainee was before his first interrogation when the technique was to maintain total isolation so that he would not know where he was or indeed in whose hands he was.”
Col. Nicholson also refuted claims of subjection to noise, claiming there was no “deliberate noise” in the cells but only in the “holding areas and corridors”.
On the topic of sleep deprivation, Col. Nicholson, who the Pat Finucance Centre have been unable to identify, admitted that a detainee was prevented from going to sleep until they were co-operating.
He stated: “If a man was giving a lot of information and there was more to come the interrogator would want to continue probing rather than let him off the hook at that stage. In some cases an interrogatee could go for a couple of days without sleep.”
The papers confirmed that all detainees were kept on a diet of bread and water until they started to talk - when they would be moved to a “light diet”. Describing the interrogation process as taking ‘quite a lot out of the men’, he said the average weight loss was about 6 to 7 lbs - with one man losing over a stone.