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News > Alumni Spotlight > I spy with my little eye …

I spy with my little eye …

21 May 2024
Alumni Spotlight
Julian Claxton, Class of '90
Julian Claxton, Class of '90

Something beginning with O. Opportunity. 

Lying is rarely a good idea. But if you must tell a lie, the last person you should lie to is Julian Claxton. 

The Class of ’90 Trinitarian is an expert on deceptive behaviour. 

He is also an authority on spying – so he is the man to see if you need to keep or uncover secrets, including state secrets. 

His business, Jayde Consulting, serves clients including prominent individuals, top-end-of-town corporations, and government agencies.

Security concerns prevent him from going into detail about what he does but he is proud to say that his work helps keep the country safe. 

His story shows there are many ways to succeed, not all of them according to the play book. 

He did not cover himself in glory at school. 

“I was terrible, I was lazy, and I have always regretted it,” he said. 

“I was active in all the things I could get away with, using the bare minimum effort.  

“I wish I had got into sports more and applied myself more academically. For about a year or so I fell in with a bad crowd (outside school), many days I wagged school, and I got into mischief, something I grossly regret.” 

His first real break came after he joined the Royal Australian Artillery Reserves. His unit was providing security support to the Bathurst 1000 car races, and he stopped a man jumping onto the track. That man turned out to be a private investigator who was so impressed by the way Julian handled himself that he offered him a job. 

Three months later he became a licenced PI himself, learning about covert surveillance, following people, and investigating potentially fraudulent insurance claims. 

“As a kid I was always trying to get out of things that didn’t suit me, watching TV instead of doing homework, bluffing my way through school … and I got away with it. 

“It was that sort of skill set that enabled me to follow people and not get caught. I learned all about people, watching their body language, and I got quite good at it. I learned a lot by osmosis, typically by watching corrupt people. I found I had a knack for it.”

He built up a network of clients, and started designing covert surveillance systems, which he sold to state and federal police, along with equipment for the corporate sector such as cameras hidden in smoke detectors and other innocuous items. That served him well until the laws changed in NSW and a warrant was then required for all covert installations. 

Technical surveillance and countermeasures came next; he was up and down ladders, and under tables, looking for evidence of covert surveillance such as bugs in boardrooms and hidden cameras like those he used to install. 

He did not go to university straight after school – his Master’s degree in communication behaviour and credibility analysis from Manchester University came much later. 

“In retrospect I’m so pleased I didn’t because the life I subsequently led has resulted in where I am today. There’s no way on this planet I would have achieved what I have achieved had I gone to university at 18. 

“I wanted to study how and why people lie. I have been lied to by many very close to me and I have really felt the consequences. I don’t like lying or being lied to as too many people suffer as a result.” 

He studied the work of American clinical psychologist Dr Paul Ekman, who coded the human face and all its muscle groups, discovering that “we leak expressions when we’re under pressure, and we don’t know we’re doing it”. 

“In one 25th of a second you can flash a particular facial expression, and the twitching of those muscles in a microsecond is indicative of an emotion – fear, anger, contempt, happiness, and so on. You can read a face like you read a book if you keep up to speed with it. 

“There’s no Pinocchio’s nose (to give away lies) but you’re looking at clusters of indicators in certain contexts. 

“Those indicators are typically anomalies in a person’s behaviour. They might be a little quieter than usual, or hesitate and stutter when answering a question, or perhaps they answer a question with a question, get angry out of character, or start to perspire and get a dry mouth when put on the spot – all depending on the context.

“When stressed, chemicals rush through your body and your autonomous nervous system kicks in. Under severe pressure it’s fight or flight, do I run, do I lie, what do I do? A dry mouth could mean the available energy and blood is going to the limbs; shutting down the digestive system and stopping the production of saliva. You cannot control it.” 

Does he use his training in his own life? “Yes, but not with intent. Once you learn this stuff it’s hard to unlearn and not apply it in life generally.” 

Questions of infidelity, drug use, and other touchy subjects do come across his desk, but he tries to steer clear of personal involvement. 

When he is questioning someone, they may not be aware of how closely he is scrutinising them. 

“I’m going to go hard on you but you’re not going to know I’m doing it. I’m watching every single indication you give, all the body language, but I’m listening especially to the words you use because words are far more valuable than any body language.” 

His work relies on science but he says: “Always listen to your guts because that is based on informed experience in life.” 

Julian, who with his wife has an 11-year-old daughter, is grateful to Trinity for instilling in him discipline and decency.

“I learned when you were spoken to you replied respectfully, when teachers talked you looked them in the eye, you wouldn’t fidget, all those really simple life lessons. 

“Respect your elders, listen to other people, do what you’re told, present yourself respectably. 

“I owe that to Trinity, unquestionably; I’m grateful for that level of discipline. 

“Respect and integrity are the two key things I look for in people who work with me. 

“I absolutely will not work for anyone who lacks integrity or who has done the wrong thing and is engaging me to fix the wrongs.  

“Integrity is the crux of everything. Don’t let it go because you can never get it back. 

“For years I looked for the easy way out of things, until one day I made a decision to go the other way and take responsibility.” 

He is grateful to his father, a government employee who kept him at Trinity after his parents divorced. 

“Dad did everything for me and I didn’t realise that until I got much older and more mature. My mother’s exceptional intellect and refined approach have always kept me on my toes – and continue to do so to this day. She possesses a level of intelligence that surpasses my own by far.” 

His advice to students is to follow their own passions but to show sensitivity if their ideas are at odds with their parents. 

“If you’ve got to present a case to the family that has supported you through 12 years at Trinity, respect the fact that your parents have worked hard to get you to where you are. 

“Explain to them why the path they want you to follow might not be the path you want to follow.” 

He also advises young people to specialise. 

“Find a field that is unique, get qualified in a space that not every man and his dog is qualified in. 

“There is an abundance of students now in cyber security, for example, so it’s a competitive market; intelligence is the next buzz word in all facets of society. 

“Don’t do what everybody else is doing; carve out a niche, find something unique. If you do really well, you become the specialist in that field. 

“Don’t listen to what everyone else wants you to do. Listen to what you want to do. Follow your passion, let life lead you, look for the opportunities and take advantage of them when they present themselves. 

This article originally appeared in our December 2023 Edition of Trinity News which you can view on our online digital bookshelf.

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