Shadow Man: An Investigation into Robert Nairac

This is one of the strangest and most chilling topics I have ever investigated.

Robert Nairac was a senior British soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the early-mid 70s, one of the worst and most bloody times of the Troubles. Nairac had wanted to serve in Northern Ireland at a time when any sane soldier wanted out. From the beginning to the weird end of his military career he was an enigma. Everyone I spoke to said that he was charismatic and brilliant, and they immediately knew he’d go down in history. His military comrades also never forgot him yet to a man they all told me they never knew for sure who he was working for.

He really was, as the title to my article states, something of a ‘Shadow Man’ straight out of  a Le Carre spy thriller.

This article is far from definitive but it does uncover some new material. I took time to follow in his footsteps – including accurately charting the physical and chronological final journey to his death; I traced and met his SAS Commanding Officers (although Nairac wasn’t officially in the SAS…); I also tracked down and interviewed his schoolmates and Oxford pals (who recall him keeping a hawk in his bedroom); and finally I unearthed and interviewed former spies who allege Nairac was a… Triple-Agent.

Nairac was called the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ of Northern ireland and some years ago I had this story optioned for a Hollywood movie. Alas, the film wasn’t made and now the rights have reverted back to me. I have never stopped investigating the case and indeed only a few months ago revisited the actual muddy field where I was told Nairac was executed. Yet, I still have questions about Nairac – so if anyone reading this wants to get in touch, please do. (Except a strange female character called ‘Nel Lister’ – a fabricated identity – who has caused mayhem down the years with anyone such as lawyers, MPs and yes, journalists, who examine the Nairac case: If she’s reading this, then I say: ‘Please don’t waste your time, I’ll spot you coming a mile off like I did the last time…’)

As of 2010, Nairac’s body has never been found or returned to his loved ones; a man is about to go on trial in Ireland for the murder; and I await a call from a decent production company interested in collaborating in what would be a stunning documentary using the new material I have yet to reveal. Like I say, this is an exceptional and eerie story that haunts all who read it and takes you into the dark heart of the secret, blood-soaked ‘Dirty War’ which once raged in Northern Ireland.

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6 thoughts on “Shadow Man: An Investigation into Robert Nairac

  1. eamonn, did you ever make the documentary, and is it available to view? also do know if the Yorkshire tv documentary ,”hidden hand” is available to view at all?

  2. I once met Nairac at Warminster in about 1973. He was a really impressive lecturer and did not use notes. However I cannot claim to have known him. He was murdered about four years later: I suddenly realised that I knew his face, which was now on the front covers of all the newspapers. Do you think that there is any truth in the rumours that he was gay? My suspicion is that he might have been, but was probably too religious and also too wedded to his army career, to do anything about it. (In those days you were kicked out if you turned out to be gay.) I think that he got most of his kicks from contact-sports like boxing: he quite liked being beaten up, and beating up others, in the ring. A bit of S & M, perhaps.

  3. He was a rogue who was allowed by his own private war by his immediate superior (who remains unknown). Almost certainly responsible for planning / organising 1974 Dublin / Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 killing 33 civilians plus the murder of the Miami snowboard. A mass murderer / ear criminal – I hope your documentary is more informative than your article. Hidden hands is on youtube

  4. Please pardon my failure to change predictive text. Meant to say
    “rogue operative”
    “war criminal”
    I don’t believe for a minute his actions were sanctioned at high level

    Hopefully if his body is recovered someone will have the sense to keep the burial low key. It is best that we move on and not ‘re-ignite the Dublin bombings

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