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Reader in Journalism, City, University of London

Head of the Department of Journalism (1 Aug 2019 - 31 July 2021). I joined City in September 2017. I'm also an investigative journalist and research academic.


* Reporting and investigating the security state - how intelligence agencies operate, how they influence the state and how the news media cover intelligence
* Mass Surveillance - consequences of state eavesdropping and the loss of privacy and the impact on journalist-source relations.
* Organised Crime – especially the historic operation of Italian Crime Groups in UK

I am interested in taking on PhD student interests in the subject areas above. But open to interesting research proposals.

Successful research grants:
Co-Investigator on the ESRC £30,000 seminar series Data-PSST! This post-Snowden project explored, from multi-disciplinary/end user perspectives, how different aspects of transparency (whether voluntarily entered into, or state/commercially/peer-imposed) affect questions of privacy, security, surveillance and trust. Seminars take place 2014-16.

Initiator and Co-Investigator on TSB funded "Interactive Social Experience Engine (iSEE) for History and Heritage - A Dorset Prehistoric Feasibility Study" a partnership project between Brunel University and Dorset County Museum. Principal Investigator: Dr David Bell, Co-Investigators: Dr Alan Serrano and Paul Lashmar Value £55,000. This six month project was completed on 31st August 2014.

Consultancy: Political-intelligence Elites: Towards Better Public Accountability through a Co-created Benchmark for Civil Society to enable PI Vian Bakir (Bangor University) to better deliver impact activities on that project. From October 2016 - November 2017.

PhD: Investigating the ‘Empire of Secrecy’ — three decades of reporting on the Secret State. Brunel University. Awarded July 2015. The relationship between the Intelligence services and the media is a core research interest.

Prior to City, I was at the University of Sussex,

As a well-regarded investigative journalist I've worked in television, radio, online and print. I've been on the staff of The Observer, Granada Television’s World in Action current affairs series and Independent Newspapers. Over the years I've also produced a number of TV programmes for BBC’s Timewatch, Channel 4’s Dispatches series and briefly reported for Newsnight. I covered the so-called ‘War on Terror’ for the Independent on Sunday from 2001-2007.

I've authored or co-authored four books. Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate was published by EUP in September 2020. Investigative Journalism by Hugo de Burgh and Paul Lashmar (eds) published by Routledge on 29 March 2021.The text book on multimedia journalism "Online Journalism" was co-authored with Steve Hill (Sage 2013).

I was awarded ‘Reporter of The Year’ (with David Leigh) at the British Press Awards. During my career I've has written about terrorism, intelligence, organised crime, offshore crime, business fraud and the Cold War and I've broken many major domestic and international stories.

I have been an adviser to The Centre for Investigative Journalism (TCIJ) and was a founder of the Bureau for Investigative Journalism BIJ.

From July 2011 - 2018 I was the Hon. Editor of the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society(DNHAS), an annual semi-scholarly publication that has been published since 1874. My seventh, Volume 139 was published in January 2019. The Editor is part of the Dorset Archaeological Committee with responsibility for publishing research including that on the County's archaeology. Dorset has the greatest wealth of prehistoric archaeology in UK aside from The Orkneys.

Community and Business


Interviewee: Heists - Baker Street Robbery Sky History Channel 21st February 2023

Consultant and interviewee. Channel 5 documentary Britain's Biggest Bank Robbery. One hour. Broadcast 23 November 2015. Repeat March 2016.

Consultant to Film Producer Chris Morris for his feature Film Four Lions released in summer 2010.

PHD, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, United Kingdom, 2012 – 2015
PDAP (PGSHE Equivalent), Brunel University London, Uxbridge, United Kingdom, Jul 2011
Deputy Head of Department of Journalism, City, University of London, May 2018 – July 2019
Head of Journalism, University of Sussex, Oct 2015 – Sep 2017
Head of Journalism, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, Jul 2014 – Sep 2015
Lecturer, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, Sep 2009 – Jun 2014
Investigative Journalist, The Independent, Jun 1998 – May 2001
Visiting appointments
Re-approval panel for BA Journalism at (a partnership with London Met), CESINE University, Santander, Spain, Sep 2015
External adviser Carried out baseline assessment of provision of investigative journalism in Malawi, Malawi Institute of Journalism, Apr 2014 – present
External to BA Journalism course (and in part MA Journalism), University of Winchester, Jul 2013 – Jul 2017


  • –present
    Lecturer in Journalism, Brunel University London