It’s what they did.
From their unobtrusive and rather down-at-heel Headquarters above a row of shops in
the Clerkenwell area of London, quietly and secretly S.11 had a worldwide remit to guard
high value UK citizens, when they were at maximum risk, and, if necessary, to „eliminate’
any serious threat to their safety. They were all individuals who, because of their exceptional
importance to the country, were naturally also of interest to the country’s enemies.
The subjects of Section 11’s attention rarely knew anything about it, or even noticed
the constant surveillance and protection that was being devoted to them.
Barclay certainly had no idea.
Run jointly by MI5 and MI6, Section 11 (5+6 ) was a small, very top-secret unit,
which had so far managed to remain top secret. They went out of their way to remain - well,
out of the way. It was one of those organisations that reported directly to Downing Street. It
wasn’t concerned with royalty or senior ministers or foreign dignitaries. The Royalty and
Diplomatic Protection Unit, run by the Metropolitan Police from Scotland Yard, looked after
them. Section 11 looked after other, less obvious but none the less high value targets.
At the sharp-end of Section 11 was a flexible force of specially trained field officers,
mostly drawn from military special forces and police special branch, but with a few from the
security services. There was no telling how many might be needed at any one time, or where
they might be deployed, so there was an „on call’ reserve pool available at „no notice’ if
required. Although when out in the field they normally worked in pairs, they were otherwise
on their own with little or no immediate back up or support. Their first priority, for which
they were specially trained, was to remain invisible, un-noticed.
They were very special men and women. Most were fluent in at least two languages
other than their native tongue; they were all parachute trained, survival specialists and sniper
marksmen. And they were mostly armed. They were also experts in pursuit driving, and had
available a range of vehicles in the garage immediately below the headquarters building,
including a selection of motorbikes from 50cc Vesper scooters to BMW R1159s and Honda
CBR 900s. Most of the vehicles had been modified in some way. The mechanics that worked
on them were particularly proud of an old Morris Minor, which although sounding as if it
needed a new exhaust, could actually do nearly a ton. But the motorbikes were the most
popular with the agents. Easy to use in traffic, not normally out of place anywhere, and ideal
for two people.
The staff who were based in the rather gloomy Headquarters did all the things that get
done in any other head office, as well as quite a few other things that don’t. But it was a small
and tightly knit community, and the operatives in the field had been trained to be largely self-
supporting, so when they did get on to HQ, it was usually important enough for people to
take notice and do something. In a hurry. There were always people there, at night and at
weekends, and any one of them could summon help from on-call staff at home, who reacted
immediately, whatever they were doing.
At the top of this shabby looking but extre mely efficient organisation, was the Head
of Section, retired Colonel Bill Clayton. He was known simply as „S’, in the same way that
the Director General of the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6 as most people called it, was
known as „C’, and the head of MI5 was known as „M’. „S’ had a deputy, Commander Nick
Marsden of the Special Boat Service, and one or other of them was always available. And