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Iain Overton (born 3 August 1973) is the Director of Policy and Investigations for the London-based Charity Action On Armed Violence.
He is also a writer, investigative journalist and documentary maker. For his work he has won one Peabody Award, two Amnesty International UK Media Awards, a One World Media Award, a Prix Circom, a BAFTA Scotland and 3 RTS nominations.
Overton runs a daily blog called An Anatomy of Violence.
Early and personal life
The Crucified Soldier
The Crucified Soldier refers to the widespread story of an Allied soldier serving in the Canadian Corps who may have been crucified with bayonets on a barn door or a tree, while fighting on the Western Front during World War I. Three witnesses said they saw an unidentified crucified Canadian soldier near the battlefield of Ypres, Belgium on or around 24 April 1915, but there was no conclusive proof such a crucifixion actually occurred. The eyewitness accounts were somewhat contradictory, no crucified body was found, and no knowledge was uncovered at the time about the identity of the supposedly crucified soldier. During World War II the story was used by the Nazis as an example of British propaganda.
Iain Overton investigated the story of the Crucified Soldier as well as other myths of World War I in his MPhil dissertation and developed them into a television documentary, which was transmitted in 2002 as part of UK Channel 4's Secret History series. Overton uncovered new historical evidence which identified the crucified soldier as Sergeant Harry Band of the Central Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Infantry, who was reported missing in action on 24 April 1915 near Ypres. Other soldiers in his unit wrote to Band's sister Elizabeth Petrie to express their condolences; a year later, one of them finally confirmed in a letter to her that her suspicions her brother had been "the crucified soldier" were true. Band's body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial.
The evidence discovered by Overton included a typewritten note by a British nurse found in the Liddle Collection of war correspondence in Leeds University. The note related comments by a Lance Corporal C.M. Brown to his nurse, Miss Ursula Violet Chaloner, who he told of a Sergeant Harry Band who was "crucified after a battle of Ypres on one of the doors of a barn with five bayonets in him."
In September 1998 he was appointed a Senior Producer at BBC Current Affairs. In 2004 he won a Scottish BAFTA for the exposé Security Wars, a BBC film highlighting corruption in the security industry in Scotland. In 2005 he won a Peabody Award for a BBC report on counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry. In that year he was also a producer on the series that won, with reporter Simon Reeve, a One World Award for best popular feature for the series Places that Don't Exist for the BBC.
In August 2005 he was appointed an Executive Producer at ITN. In 2006 he was voted best Broadcast Journalist by the UK bar council for a news report on the proposed changes to the coroners’ system, which would have made coroners’ investigations into deaths abroad discretionary rather than compulsory. In 2009 he was shortlisted for a One World award for an expose on child trafficking in India.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
In 2011/2012 the Bureau won a second Amnesty Award  and was nominated for four Press Gazette British Journalism Awards. The leading nominees for the awards included The Times and The Sunday Times with six nominations apiece. Then the Bureau and the Independent with four. The BBC and Getty Images received three nominations each.
The BBC TV programme Newsnight broadcast, shown on 2 November 2012 and reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's lead journalist Angus Stickler made an allegation against an unnamed politician, who was widely identified on the internet as the former Conservative Party Treasurer Lord McAlpine. Lord McAlpine issued a statement strongly denying the accusations. This allegation was subsequently admitted to be false. On 12 November 2012, Overton resigned from his position at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
James Lee, Chair of the Trustees of the Bureau, commented at the time: "The Bureau was launched and built up under Iain’s editorship. Iain has played a pivotal role in the Bureau’s success to date. Under his editorship the Bureau has gained a reputation for quality journalism as well as winning awards. His resignation is a real tragedy. He has always shown tireless commitment to the Bureau and we thank him for all his hard work.”
The Trust of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reviewed the events leading up to the report and concluded that the story had come from the BBC and was made entirely within the BBC: "The Bureau was not itself directly responsible for the content of the programme, which was at all times controlled, edited and lawyered by the BBC."
Writing in the British trade newspaper the Press Gazette, editor Dominic Ponsford, wrote: "Overton has paid a heavy price for sanctioning the Newsnight report carried out by his lead reporter Angus Stickler. He has resigned and it is worth noting that had he not done so the likelihood is he could not have been sacked."
"That this House recalls the great successes of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) in its quality work on exposing many national and international scandals, including revealing that the CIA falsely claimed that it was causing zero civilian casualties in drone attacks in Pakistan and confirming that the US had deliberately targeted rescuers in follow-up strikes; applauds The Bureau's work on deaths in police custody that was rewarded with a 2012 Amnesty International Media Award and revealed that high-profile deaths in police custody had not been included in official statistics and that police continue to use restraint techniques that have long been known to be dangerous; further notes that The Bureau investigated the under-spend of European structural funds, reported in detail the misuse of House of Lords facilities and failure of peers to declare their interests, exposed the power and influence of the financial lobby and conducted a valuable investigation of the public relations and lobbying industries; regrets the reduction in spending on investigative journalism by the BBC; and congratulates TBIJ for providing a valuable service in issues neglected by the main broadcasters."
Action on Armed Violence
Gun, Baby, Gun
In 2013, it was reported that Canongate, a UK publishing house, that they had acquired world rights for a book Iain Overton was writing called 'Gun, Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun'. The company's website reported that the "deal was done within hours of the submission by Antony Topping at Greene & Heaton Ltd, with Norwegian rights already pre-empted over the weekend by Halfdan Friehow at Font. Canongate plan to publish in Spring 2015, and will be selling rights at Frankfurt Book Fair".
The deal was later reported on 10.10.13 by The Bookseller.
- Evans, Suzanne (2007). Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-7735-3188-2.
- "BAND, HARRY". Casualty Details. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Overton, Iain (14 April 2001). "Nurse's Note Lends Credence to Story of Crucified Soldier". National Post. pp. B7.
- Cowie, Eleanor (2004-11-15). "Scotland joins the world of screen glamour Wind and rain cannot stop the stars coming out in Glasgow". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Frontline Scotland". BBC News Online. 2004-05-25. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Bad Medicine". BBC Two. 2005-07-12. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "This World: Bad Medicine". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Awards 2005". One World Media. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Bar Council Launches 2007 Legal Reporting Awards". General Council of the Bar. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Shortlist 2009". One World Media. 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- Greenslade, Roy (2009-09-21). "ITN's Overton to be investigative bureau's managing editor". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- Oliver, Laura (2010-10-28). "The bureau, the whistleblower and the data journalist: how WikiLeaks' Iraq war logs made the news". Journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Amnesty announces 2011 Media Awards winners". Amnesty International. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Winner Announced". The University Association for Contemporary European Studies. 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Bureau wins the Thomson Reuters Reporting Europe award". Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Honoring the best in investigative journalism". Investigative Reporters and Editors. 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Bureau nominated for IRE award". Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Bureau wins 2012 Amnesty Award". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 2012-05-30.
- "The Bureau in running for 4 Press Gazette British Journalism Awards". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 2012-05-30.
- "Early day motion 727". www.parliament.uk. 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2012-11-30.