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The Independent Online
No 58: Quentin Thomas, deputy secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, leading the team of civil servants in the Government's talks with Sinn Fein. Believed to have played keyrole in the talks with the IRA.

Age: 50

Salary: Upper end of the deputy secretary scale £69,990 to £79,396

Perks: Bodyguard on occasions. The satisfaction of wrestling with Britain's most difficult political dilemma. Said by one commentator to view the Ulster problem like an "intellectual puzzle which he approaches like a grand master."

Education: Perse School, Cambridge; Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.