The great moral question...
In all the years that I have been doing what i do, there have been very few occasions when i have questioned the morality of my role. I believe that i provide a service that helps people to open up to their partners and discuss their relationships free of the lies that affairs create. Most people, after the initial shock of discovery, relish the chance to rid themselves of the guilt that has burdened them and seize the opportunity to make right the things they perceived were wrong in their relationships.
However, there is one case (also famous for being the shortest case in our history at just 24 minutes start to finish!) that stands out in my mind as being the closest i have come to questioning whether what i do is right.
The client call came through at around 1130hrs. The job was a simple one; follow his wife during her lunch break to ease his suspicions about her relationship with her boss. He was insistent that his suspicions would be unfounded and laughed at the idea of even proceeding, but still, he had a nagging doubt that he couldn't put aside and thus we took the details and agreed to feedback following the operation.
Leaving the office, we all believed that this would simply be another hour or two of fruitless surveillance whereupon we could put the clients fears to rest, but this wasn't to be the case. Shortly after arriving at the targets workplace, she appeared alone and was observed walking across the car park. She paused by a 4x4 vehicle and was soon joined by a man who had left the office a minute or two after her. They both climbed into the vehicle, her in the passenger seat and set off, soon blending into the lunchtime traffic. After a few minutes of mobile surveillance, the targets pulled into an area of woodland and shut off the engine. We parked 100 yards or so further down the road and doubled back to scope out an observation point from which we could gather photos.
From our position, we could clearly see and document that target and her associate (who was later confirmed to be her boss) had climbed into the rear of the vehicle and were engaged in sexual activity. At this point, we contacted the client to confirm whether or not he wanted us to break cover to get more a detailed image from inside the car - the target and her associate had dropped down below the window line and thus more detailed pictures would mean standing immediately next to the car shooting in and down. He confirmed that yes, he wanted close up faces and actions documented and thus the order was given to break cover.
We moved quickly back to our vehicle and repositioned it immediately adjacent to the target car. The target and her associate obviously spotted us jumping out but were unable to respond fast enough to our cameras at the windows and thus, our job was done. We got into our car and sped off back to the office leaving them in little doubt that they had just been caught red handed.
The preparation of the report and the download of the images took around 30 minutes and after a quick lunch, we were on our way to the client house to present our findings. He was devastated and told us that he would confront and then leave his wife upon her return. As we left, we met a lady coming in with two happy children in tow. As i passed them on the drive, i thought back to the report i had just handed their father, the report that presented their mothers betrayal, the report that heralded the breakdown of their family unit.
At that point, i wondered whether or not we had done the right thing. Would the affair have just fizzled out in time with no harm done, would it have just been a passing phase that left no-one any the wiser?
On the way back to the office, i called the client and told him that he should give himself time to digest the information before confronting his wife. We talked for around 20 minutes and concluded with him agreeing to stay with his father for a day or two to think things through.
As it transpired, after this period of reflection the client agreed to attend counselling sessions with his wife. As a result, they stayed together, worked through their problems and i am told that they are now as strong as ever. The family stayed together.
Most couples dont separate on the mere suspicion of an affair, most need irrefutable proof and irrefutable proof is what we provided during that day in the woods. So the question that i find myself asking is this: Had the couple of split up based on our evidence for an affair that, like most, may have died out in time without anyone ever knowing about it, would we have been partly to blame for the breakdown of that family...?