Investigative Training Centre Set for London

By Dominic Ponsford

A new London-based centre for investigative journalism training is being set up by a former World in Action journalist.

Buoyed by the success of a weekend summer school held at the University of Westminster in London, course director Gavin MacFadyen is now planning further lectures and other events based around a permanent base in the capital.

Last weekend’s school attracted more than 100 journalists, including contingents from The Guardian, the Daily Express, The Mail on Sunday, theEvening Standard, the BBC and numerous regional papers.

There was instruction on everything from deciphering statistics using spreadsheets to hiding a surveillance camera in a Fanta bottle. Although the full price of the course was £250, it was heavily subsidised by the Lorana Sullivan Trust, abequest from the US investigative reporter of the same name.

The star turn of the weekend was Pulitzer-winning US investigative journalist Seymour Hirsh, who made his name exposing the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam. Now 66, Hirsh is still working and with the bene.t of his top-level Government and security service contacts he provided a fascinating insight into the Machiavellian workings of Washington.

Other speakers included Philip Knightley, Duncan Campbell and several staff from the US-based training organisation Investigative Reporters and Editors. Paul Foot was unable to attend due to illness. MacFadyen said: “This was our first one and we have a lot to learn, but the feedback so far has been great. “We are hoping to establish a new centre of investigative journalism, possibly based at the University of Westminster.

“We want to run regular courses for people who are working and need a bit of help with an investigation they are running. We also want to get a register of experienced journalists who can help younger journalists with stories and we’d like to build a resource centre with a lot of information about financial crime.”

For those who missed last weekend’s course, transcripts of many of the discussions, as well as handout notes, will be made available at

Further information is also available at


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