Rebecca Jane set up her detective agency because she knows what it’s like to be the victim of infidelity. “I suspected my ex husband was cheating on me. I needed hard evidence but I found all the detective agencies were run by men.
“I didn’t like their attitude. They were patronising and expensive, charging between £50 and £100 an hour.
“So I started to do my own detective work. It didn’t exactly go to plan. I ended up in a car crash after my efforts to tail him went wrong – it made me realise when it came to setting up my own agency that I needed to be fully trained first.”
It wasn’t just the infidelity that signalled the end of the relationship, however, and Rebecca tried to make her marriage work before eventually deciding divorce was the only solution.
“I wholeheartedly believe in marriage, my parents have been married for 45 years. But there was so much wrong in mine. My ex husband had a drink problem for instance. He had numerous liaisons with numerous women, but if it had just been a one-off I don’t think that would have ended it. I advise people: don’t throw a marriage away because of an affair.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, Rebecca’s clients tend to be of a similar mindset: “The majority of our clients stay together once we have uncovered infidelity even in the case of long-standing affairs. They come to us to get the truth then often they will go away and work at it. Communication is the key. If only couples would talk to each other more I don’t think our services would be needed as much.
“But you can’t put up with a serial philanderer. I think Cheryl Cole handled things exceptionally well by giving Ashley a chance when she first found out he’d apparently been unfaithful. But he is reported to have cheated on her more than once. In those circumstances you have to walk away.
“Most people have affairs because they find their lives mundane, they want something exciting, to escape from the dull reality of their everyday lives. Affairs tend to happen when a relationship is under five years old or over 20.
“You have to go with your gut instinct if you do suspect infidelity. Suspicions tend to build up over time through a combination of little things, a small trail of lies. The obvious one is if your partner would rather eat his mobile phone rather than let you look at it.
“Generally, a person’s suspicions end up being proven correct although you do get cases of paranoid partners.”
Lancashire lass, Rebecca, 26, hasn’t been put off romance by the heartache she suffered: “I had a horrific experience with my ex-husband, but I have used that experience as a learning curve. It made me grow up fast. I’m with someone now. I’m very very happy and I trust him with all my heart. But, to be quite fair, with the amount of surveillance equipment in my house he would be stupid to cheat!”
Rebecca picked herself up quickly once she decided to leave her ex-husband, changing jobs as well as leaving her marriage.
“I’d been working in property and then the crash happened. I decided to set up the detective agency with the women who’d helped me find out about my husband’s cheating. I decided all this in a calm and measured way.”
And so the Lady Detective Agency was born, now based in the heart of Manchester in King Street, with an all female staff – although they have been called on to use the occasional male for honey trap purposes: “We needed a man for a case involving a transsexual,” she says matter of factly.
“But essentially we’re an all women staff who’ve all been trained and we’re all women who have experienced infidelity. I think that’s important because we can offer empathy as well as a professional service.”
And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Rebecca and her team are expecting to be busier than ever. “Occasions like Valentine’s Day always prompt an awful lot of hits on our website. For instance on Christmas Eve we had no hits but by Boxing Day we were inundated – wives receiving gifts they’re not at all happy with,” she laughs.
Her all woman agency attracts many male clients as well as female. “I’d say it’s 60 per cent women 40 per cent men. I think they appreciate our prices as well as the fact that they can pour their hearts out to us because we have been there.
“We charge £40 an hour and try to make it affordable for everyone. We don’t hang about like some private detectives who wait around for hours and hours to gather evidence. We are much happier if we know where so and so is going to be at such and such a time. The idea of sitting around in a car for hours fills me with dread!”
But with her blonde bubbly looks doesn’t Rebecca worry about the risk of being recognised later by an irate philanderer? “There is always a risk involved but we do have disguises. We never work on our own either.”