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A Need To Know by Roger J Sutton
A Need To Know by Roger J Sutton
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ROGER Sutton thinks for a long, drawn-out moment.

“I can’t really answer that question,” he says eventually.

Roger Sutton,communications expert

Roger Sutton,communications expert

It doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s maybe the eighth, ninth, tenth time he’s answered thus today. We’ve only been talking five minutes.

Another approach is attempted. And Roger Sutton thinks for a long, drawn-out moment.

“I can’t really answer that question,” he says eventually.

Perhaps it is to be expected.

This, after all, is a man who works in the global secrets industry. The 63-year-old from North Anston is a communications security expert with Swiss heavyweight firm Crypto AG.

For the last 24 years he has worked with governments, militaries, intelligence services and royal families across the world to protect their sensitive information and stop their phones, emails and satellite systems being hacked. If a president wants to talk to the head of his army without someone listening in, Roger’s the bloke who can arrange that.

Sound exciting? It is.

“There’s certainly elements of danger and intrigue to it,” he says.

Such as?

“I can’t really answer that question,” he says.

Ah.

So... here’s what Roger can tell us.

He was born in Abbeydale, educated at Shiregreen County School and Sheffield Polytechnic, has a wife called Elizabeth, a detective for a son, a nurse for a daughter and two grandchildren. His family home is in North Anston but he’s currently based in the United Arab Emirates.

He got his present job after Crypto approached him in 1987 while he was lecturing on electronics in the Middle East. And he sees himself less of a James Bond figure, more Q. “The work I do is definitely a ‘wearing grey cardigans’ kind of thing,” he notes.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t spend time in ‘the field’, though. He recalls being shot at by rebels in the jungle of Sri Lanka and watching the Iraq invasion of Kuwait on TV – in Kuwait.

“That felt uncomfortable,” he admits. “Because my work was... shall we say, not unrelated with the whole situation?”

If the perks of the job are the excitement and the travel, there’s also the small matter of “getting to play with real boys’ toys,” he adds.

“I’ve worked on a lot of aeroplanes so the pilots can talk to each other without fear their communications are being listened to, and when you stand back on the runway and watch them take off, it does give you a thrill – and watching them get back, knowing you’ve helped to keep them safe, is also a big thing.”

It’s stressful, though.

“People’s lives depend on what I do and that can be a worry,” says Roger.

“We create codes but codes can be broken. Does that keep me up at night? Yes, sometimes – but I trust in what I do. I believe Crypto is the best. We keep people’s secrets secret.”

Now, not happy with helping to keep the world secure, he’s turned his hand to writing a book about the whole thing.

His novel, A Need To Know, is a fiction based on some of his own experiences in the world of espionage.

“I’m quite an arty type,” he says. “ And I wanted to share some of my experiences as a novel. I wanted to give people an insight.”

Just don’t ask him for too many details. He won’t be able to answer that.

n A Need To Know is published by Matador and is available in South Yorkshire bookshops and online now.