Notes on my Techniques.
1. Allegations of "Foot-in-the-Door".
When deciding how to approach personal sources as an
unknown author, I separated the rich and influential from
the poor and humble. To the latter I first wrote or
telephoned, to arrange an interview, in the knowledge
from experience that they readily agreed to assist. The
former -- Admirals, Ministers, Judges among them, could
not easily be approached impersonally like this, as a
letter or telephone approach might not get beyond a
secretary, and would be too easily, and finally, refused.
This would bar a probably indispensable source of
infor-mation, a risk I could not take.
My technique was always to make a personal approach
direct to these people: I would arrive in the early
evening at their front door, unannounced, ring the bell,
and ask the person who answered the door whether Mr ---
could find time to grant me an interview "in a few days'
time". I never asked to see them that same evening; the
technique was simply designed to make it less easy for
the person to refuse. It was a very polite and usually
friendly introduction. It worked in every case, except
Lord Justice Winn. Some found time, at their
suggestion, to talk to me at length immediately (to
which, of course, I was not averse); others, like
Admiral Servaes, excused themselves for that
evening and arranged for me to return at a pre-arranged
date in the future. I felt it important to establish
personal contact, so that subsequent letters or telephone
conversations met with detailed answers.
At Adml. Denning's suggestion, I adopted this
personal approach technique with Mr Justice Winn (as he
was then). I called unannounced at his Kensington
apart-ment at 8.55 p.m., and was shown by him into his
drawing room, once I had explained who I was and asked
whether he could find time to give me an interview in a
few days' time. He had answered something like, "Well, I
can give you half an hour now, if you like" and he had
then invited me in. He was in a dinner jacket, I believe.
We sat down in his drawing room, and I talked with him,
without making notes, until 9.20 p.m., when he said he
had a dinner party, to which he must now return. We
parted on very cordial terms, and I mentally noted that
now that personal contact had been established, I could
approach him later either by telephone or in writing, and
he would do his best to help. I wrote a note on the
conversation fifteen minutes later. The rest of the story
is known: when I telephoned him five days later (7 April
l963) he was for no reason at all abusive, and rang off.
Since then, he has circulated a very hostile account of
my having gate-crashed his house.
2. My Tape-Recording of Telephone
I consider it is irrelevant whether I tape-record my
own telephone conversations, or take shorthand notes of
them. In every case the recordings of the PQ.17 research
conversations were destroyed as soon as I had typed a
note based on them. The object of recording the
conversations was clearly to obviate any slips or
misunderstandings. The tape-recordings which I now take
(about 5% of my conversations) are stored, as a defence
in the event of any future actions; they are not intended
for any public use whatsoever. This will not prevent the
other side from making capital out of my technique,